Novak Djokovic has come back from two sets down to beat Italian Jannik Sinner in the quarter finals as he pursues his fourth consecutive Wimbledon triumph. He paid tribute to his opponent after today’s dramatic match. Dazzling on the court, Djokovic has also made a name for himself thanks to his controversial nature off of it.
In 2016, this side of Djokovic was on display when he commented on a row relating to the pay of male and female tennis players, arguing that men should be paid more.
He added: “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.”
He later clarified his comments in a post on Facebook, in which he said his views were not articulated properly — that all players should fight for what they deserve in terms of fairer distribution of funds, regardless of gender.
Serena Williams, who has a remarkable 23 grand slams to her name, took aim at Djokovic over his comments.
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. [Djokovic] 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.
“There have been great men players too, but women’s tennis is the biggest sport for women—period.”
She was not the only star to disagree with Djokovic, as British number one and two-time Wimbledon winner, Andy Murray, said women’s tennis should be able to “capitalise” on audiences just as the men’s game had.
He said: “One of the things [Djokovic] said was that if women are selling more seats and tickets they should make more but at a tournament like this, for example, if [Williams] is playing on centre court and you have a men’s match with [Sergiy] Stakhovsky playing, people are coming to watch [Williams].
“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.
“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.”
The debate had initially been sparked when then chief executive of Indian Wells tournament Raymond Moore claimed women players ride the coattails of the men.
He later apologised for the comments, but resigned from his role that year.
Murray said that the timing of Moore’s remarks were “strange”.
He added: “I think there should be equal pay, 100 percent, at all combined events.
“The timing of it [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 at all with those comments. It made no sense at all.”