Andy Murray has joined Serena Williams in flagging up the very many things that are wrong, offensive and sexist about comments made by Indian Wells Tennis Gardens CEO Raymond Moore, and later supported by number one seeded player Novak Djokovic.
Following Moore’s resignation on Tuesday, after he claimed that women’s tennis ‘rides on the coattails’ of the men’s game, and that ‘lady players’ should ‘go down every night on [their] knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born’, Williams and Murray have both spoken out against sexism in sport.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of the Miami Open, Murray told reporters: “I think there should be equal pay, 100%, at all combined events. The timing of [Moore’s remarks] was just so strange, right before a great women’s final, there were 16,000 people in the stadium waiting to see them play.
“The whole thing was very strange and very disappointing. I don’t understand at all where he was coming from with those comments. It made no sense at all.”
The British tennis champ also added: “Men’s tennis has been lucky over the last nine or 10 years with the players they’ve had, the rivalries which have come out of that. That’s great but the whole of tennis should capitalise on that – not just the men’s game.”
Directly responding to Djokovic’s idea that whoever sells the most tickets should win the most prize money (in his opinion, that’s male players), Murray argues: “If Serena is playing on centre court and you have a men’s match with Stakhovsky playing, people are coming to watch Serena.
“The crowds are coming to watch the women as well. The whole thing just doesn’t stack up – it changes on a day-to‑day basis depending on the matches you get.”
After addressing Moore’s comments on the weekend, Serena Williams has also now responded directly to Djokovic's call for male players to be awarded more prize money that women.
Talking to reporters yesterday, Williams asked Djokovic to explain to his own children why he believes men and women should earn unequal pay in tennis.
At a press conference, 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. If they both started at three years old I would say they both deserve the same amount of money.
“I have been playing since the age of two and it would be shocking to say my son would deserve more than my daughter. It is irrelevant. 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.
“It all boils down to that. I would never put a sex against another sex. I think it’s unfair to compare, we have had so many great women champions and players who have brought such great vision to the sport.”
Novak Djokovic angered tennis fans on Sunday by agreeing with controversial comments made by Indian Wells tournament boss Moore, ahead of Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams’ BNP Paribas final match.
Shocking reporters at a press conference Moore, who has since apologised for his comments, said: “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.”
When asked how he felt about the comments afterwards, Djokovic surprised many by admitting that he agreed somewhat with Moore’s comments, particularly that male players should earn more prize money than their female counterparts.
Asked by reporters for his verdict on the debate, the number one seed acknowledged that it was a ‘delicate situation’, but confirmed that he believes men should win a bigger cash prize than female champions.
Speaking after his win over Milos Ronic at the Indian Wells tournament, Djokovic said: “I understand how much power and energy WTA [Women's Tennis Association] 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.”
The Serbian tennis star then went on to discuss his ‘respect’ for female athletes and insisted that he was not entering a male versus female pay debate. His comments however, have backfired, with some accusing him of patronising sport’s most impressive women.
“I have tremendous respect for what women in global sport are doing and achieving,” he said. “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.”
Serena Williams, who was initially asked for her views on Moore’s comments before the Djokovic press conference, has been consistently clear in her disapproval.
Following her match against Azarenka on Sunday, Williams said: “Obviously I don’t think any woman should be down on their knees thanking anybody like that.”
She also addressed the inaccuracies of Moore’s claim that women’s tennis relies of the popularity of the men’s game, saying: “I don’t think that is a very accurate statement. I think there’s a lot of women out there who are very exciting to watch.
“I think there are a lot of men out there who are very exciting to watch. I think it definitely goes both ways. I think those remarks are very much mistaken and very, very, very inaccurate.
“Last year the women’s final at the US Open sold out well before the men. 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.
“There’s only one way to interpret that. Get on your knees, which is offensive enough, and thank a man, which is not – we, as women, have come a long way. We shouldn’t have to drop to our knees at any point.”
Azarenka, who followed Williams at the press conference, agreed, adding: “I think it’s our duty to keep just working hard through whatever comments there are. We’ve got to rise above that.”
Former female tennis stars including Billie Jean King, Chris Evert and Anne Keothavong have also hit out at Moore’s comments, sharing their views on Twitter.