Novak Djokovic sans foot in mouth.
Oh, Indian Wells. Your event is now not only the site of racist jeers that kept Serena Williams away for 13 years, but also that of an apparent summit of sexist men.
It started yesterday when delusional Indian Wells Tennis Garden CEO Raymond Moore suggested that “lady players” were “very, very lucky” that men have thus far carried the sport for them. After that doozy of a comment, reporters began asking other players to weigh in, including world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who appears to be suffering from a case of verbal diarrhea.
Some context: Tennis is one of the only sports with parity in prize money, but only at joint events of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), including the four Grand Slam tournaments and select events like Indian Wells. The U.S. Open has paid equal money since 1973 (thanks to Billie Jean King), but Wimbledon didn’t hop on the bandwagon until 2007.
This backstory is what makes Djokovic’s remarks so upsetting. He said:
“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. But, again, we can’t complain because we also have great prize money in men’s tennis.”
In summary: How wonderful for women that they got equal pay, which is what they deserve, though men really should make more because they fill more seats.
Of course, it’s not like women’s sports have suffered when it comes to media coverage, promotion, and institutional support since forever. That would be institutional sexism and the sports world surely doesn’t have that problem.