Sunday 25 February 2018

Novak Djokovic clarifies comments on prize money for men and women and offers apology

Novak Djokovic and Raymond Moore
Novak Djokovic and Raymond Moore

Novak Djokovic has apologised for any offence he may have caused with his comments regarding prize money for men and women in tennis and sought to clarify what he meant.

The world number one caused a stir at the weekend when, following controversial remarks made by Indian Wells chief executive Raymond Moore on the subject, he said men should be awarded more prize money than women.

Speaking after his victory in the BNP Paribas Open final at Indian Wells, the Serbian said women deserve the money they get, but men should fight for more because their game attracts more viewers.

Those views attracted criticism from various quarters, but Djokovic has now issued a statement on his Facebook page seeking to explain exactly what he meant.

He said: "I was asked to comment on a controversy that wasn't of my making. Euphoria and adrenalin after the win on Sunday got the best of me and I've made some comments that are not the best articulation of my view, and I would like to clarify them.

"As you all know, I care deeply about the future of the game and all of the players. Tennis helped me so much in my life and being where I am today, I felt the need to speak about the fairer and better distribution of funds across the board - this was meant for both men and women.

"We all have to fight for what we deserve. This was never meant to be made into a fight between genders and differences in pay, but in the way all players are rewarded for their play and effort.

"Tennis is a sport that I love and that gave me the opportunity to help others who still have a long way to go to achieve their dreams. This was my view all along and I want to apologise to anyone who has taken this the wrong way."

Djokovic's initial remarks came in the wake of a row sparked by comments from Moore.

Speaking ahead of the BNP Paribas final between Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams, Moore said the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) was a ''lucky organisation'' which ''rides on the coattails'' of the men.

Moore later apologised for his comments before resigning from his post on Tuesday morning.

His views drew widespread criticism, including from world number one Serena Williams, who also questioned Djokovic's response.

She said: ''If I have a daughter who plays tennis and also have a son that plays tennis, I wouldn't say that my son deserves more because he is a man.

''I have been playing since the age of two and it would be shocking to say my son would deserve more than my daughter.

''Novak is entitled to his opinion. But if he has a daughter - I think he has a son right now - he should talk to her and tell her how his son deserves more money, because he is a boy.''

British number one Andy Murray has also spoken out in the row which has engulfed the sport, saying he believes ''100 per cent'' equal pay is the only fair future for tennis.

The Scot told the Guardian: "I think there should be equal pay, 100 per cent, at all combined events.

"The whole thing was very strange and very disappointing. I don't understand at all where [Moore] was coming from at all with those comments. It made no sense at all."

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