World number one Novak Djokovic has made a sensational claim into the equality of prize money between male and female tennis players, according to BBC News.
There has been much dispute whether women should earn the same as their counterparts, with all four majors amongst the tournaments to give both sexes equal pay.
However, 11-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic believes that men should take home more because they attract bigger audiences.
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“Obviously, it’s a very delicate situation. Women deserve respect and admiration for what they are doing. You know, equal prize money was the main subject of the tennis world in the last seven, eight years.
“I applaud them [WTA] 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."
The Serbian lifted the Indian Wells title at the weekend, with Victoria Azarenka winning the women’s competition.
The world number 13 beat Serena Williams in the final, taking home the same winnings as Djokovic, with the Californian event offering equal pay as a combined Masters tournament, along with the Miami Open.
Women-only competitions hand out less than similar-sized men’s tournaments, but Djokovic believes the men’s game is more attractive and should be rewarded in accordance with its greater popularity.
He claims winnings should be “fairly distributed based on who attracts more attention, spectators and who sells more tickets.”
Same winnings, different audiences
In 2007, Wimbledon became the last Grand Slam to offer equal prize money, following the US Open (1973), the Australian Open (2001) and the French Open (2007).
Yet, men draw in a bigger audience, with over double the amount their female counterparts do in tournaments, as they attracted 973 million viewers for their 2015 ATP tour, compared to 395 million in the women’s WTA events and finals.
Equality for women
This new wave of debate over equality in tennis has come about after Indian Wells tournament CEO Raymond Moore controversially stated: “If I was a lady player, I would go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born because they have carried this sport.”
Although the 69-year-old South African apologised for his comments and Djokovic has criticised for former player for them, the discussion on equality for women in the sport has continued to rage on.