Indian Wells boss, Raymond Moore has stepped down over his comments, but the debate still rages on
Women in sport – and how much women in sport are paid compared to men in sport – has always been the focus of attention and conversation.
For many years now, female tennis players have earned considerably less prize money than male players – something which is only now becoming more equal.
However at the weekend, Indian Wells CEO, Raymond Moore, made comments which were so insulting he has now stepped down from his position.
Wells said women’s tennis ‘rides on the coat tails’ of the men’s game, and later added: ‘If I was a lady player I’d go down on my knees every night and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born because they carry this sport.’
While many tennis fans (including us) were left reeling in shock, Wells has had some support from prominent figures in the game, including Novak Djokovic.
In a bid to justify Wells’ comments, Djokovic said: ‘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.’
Former badminton world champion Gail Emms, backed up world number one Djokovic’s comments.
‘I don’t like saying this, but it is easier to be a top female athlete than it is for males, because purely on numbers, how hard you’ve got to work to get up there,’ she said.’ I’m not saying the top female athletes don’t work hard, and the ones at the top are fantastic athletes and sacrifice and dedicate a lot. It’s just a numbers game.’
Meanwhile, former Davis Cup captain, David Lloyd, agreed that it was a numbers game. ‘It’s supply and demand and it could swing back in the future.’
However, women’s number one, Serena Williams, was appalled by the remarks – and was quick to shut down anyone who thought that women had less of a pull factor in the sport.
‘Those remarks are very much mistaken and very inaccurate,’ she said.
‘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… As women, have come a long way. We shouldn’t have to drop to our knees at any point.’
Hear hear, Ms W.
Female tennis legends have also backed Williams up. Billie Jean King described the comments as being ‘wrong on so many levels’ and Martina Navratilova said his views were ‘extremely prejudiced and old-fashioned.’
Eitherway, no one can dispute the glaring differences between men and women’s pay across all professional sports – and in fact, most professions in general.
And that’s an imbalance which needs addressing urgently.