Indian Wells Tennis Garden CEO Raymond Moore made some controversial comments over the weekend regarding the Women’s Tennis Association, and now Novak Djokovic is also throwing his hat into the ring on the topic.
Speaking to reporters in California during the Indian Wells-hosted BNP Paribas Open before the women’s final match on Sunday, Moore said that the WTA “ride[s] on the coattails of the men.”
Moore also added, “If I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born because they have carried this sport. They really have.”
After Djokovic beat Milos Raonic in straight sets on Sunday in the men’s final, he addressed Moore’s comments at his press conference.
According to a report by The Guardian, Djokovic said he does admire women for fighting successfully for equal pay, but that men “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.”
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Djokovic went on to say that women face challenges including “hormones” — an issue he said men don’t have to deal with.
“Their bodies are much different to men’s bodies,” he said. “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.”
Serena Williams, who lost to Victoria Azarenka in the women’s final, told reporters following Moore’s comments that she doesn’t think his statements are accurate.
“Last year, the women’s final at the U.S. Open sold out well before the men,” she said. “I’m sorry, did Roger play in that final or Rafa or any man play in a final that was sold out before the men’s final? I think not.”
Moore has apologized for his comments, but Djokovic has yet to retract any of his statements. There has been no word from Djokovic’s sponsors; the Serbian wears Uniqlo apparel and Adidas shoes on court.
Maria Sharapova was in the spotlight earlier this month after she voluntarily admitted to testing positive for the banned substance meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open. Her sponsors Nike, Tag Heuer and Porsche subsequently suspended her contracts.