World number one Novak Djokovic offered his support to women playing tennis but believes men deserve more prize money following controversial comments made by Indian Wells chief executive Raymond Moore about the WTA Tour.
Moore sparked a row before Sunday’s men’s and women’s BNP Paribas Open finals when he said female players “ride on the coattails of the men”, while adding they should “get down on their knees and thank God” for the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who he claimed have carried the sport.
The 69-year-old later apologised for his comments amid backlash from 21-time grand-slam champion Serena Williams, but Djokovic was asked about Moore’s views on the women’s game after winning his fifth title at Indian Wells, and the Serbian star said it was a “very delicate situation”.
“Women deserve respect and admiration for what they are doing. You know, equal prize money was the main subject of the tennis world in the last seven, eight years,” said Djokovic, who saw off Milos Raonic in straight sets.
“I have been through that process as well so I understand how much power and energy WTA and all the advocates for equal prize money have invested in order to reach that.
“I applaud them for that, I honestly do. They fought for what they deserve and they got it. On the other hand I think that our men’s tennis world, ATP world, should fight for more because the stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men’s tennis matches.
“I think that’s one of the reasons why maybe we should get awarded more. Women should fight for what they think they deserve and we should fight for what we think we deserve.
“As long as it’s like that and there is data and stats available upon who attracts more attention, spectators, who sells more tickets and stuff like that, in relation to that it has to be fairly distributed.”
Djokovic added: “I have tremendous respect for what women in global sport are doing and achieving.
“Their bodies are much different to men’s bodies. They have to go through a lot of different things that we don’t have to go through. You know, the hormones and different stuff, we don’t need to go into details.
“I have great admiration and respect for them to be able to fight on such a high level. Many of them have to sacrifice for certain periods of time, the family time or decisions that they make on their own bodies in order to play tennis and play professional sport.
“I have had a woman that was my coach and that was a huge part of my tennis career. I’m surrounded by women. I’m very happy to be married with one and to have a child. I’m completely for women power.”
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