Djokovic Delivers a 'Bad Serve' on Gender Pay Gap, Apologises
NEW DELHI: World number one tennis player, Novak Djokovic kicked up a gender wage gap storm in the sporting world, when he made a comment on men deserving more prize money than their female counterparts. The wave of protest against his statement prompted the tennis start to post a qualified apology in an open letter on Facebook.
Djokovic, who recently won the Indian Wells tournament, told reporters after winning that men should “fight for more” money since they drew more spectators at the matches.
He only seconded in effect the Indian wells CEO, Raymond Moore, who had said earlier, in a rather boisterous way, that woman’s tours, “ride on coat-tails of men”, and also, "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."
Moore has since resigned after receiving flak for his sexist remarks.
Djokovic too, wrote in his letter on Facebook that, “As you may have seen, I was asked to comment on a controversy that wasn’t of my making… Euphoria and adrenaline 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…”
“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…”
“This was my view all along and I want to apologise to anyone who has taken this the wrong way.”
Serena Williams, the most successful woman tennis player in the history of the game, didn’t seem amused. “I wouldn’t say my son deserved more money than my daughter because he’s a man. It would be shocking,” she said responding to the Serbian champion’s comments.
It must be noted that all four Grand Slams now offer equal prize money to players of both sexes. Wimbledon, the most generous in its prize money, offered 1,880,000 GBP for the year 2015, to winners of each sex.
The US Open was the first Grand Slam tournament to start the practice of equal pay for winners of both sexes. It did so way back in the mid-70s, not so closely followed by Australian Open which began equal pay in 2001, and the French Open which woke up to it in 2006. Wimbledon became the last Grand Slam tournament to champion equal pay.
Andy Murray, the English champion, also disagreed with Djokovic as he supported 100 per cent wage equality for both parties. However, in the past, he too had said that women have better chances of winning more money since they play only three of the best sets in comparison to five played by men, which gives them time and energy to play in doubles matches and supplement their income.
Egalitarianism of Grand Slams apart, there are small tournaments which still discriminate between wages of men and women players.