Responding to comments made by Novak Djokovic and Raymond Moore about equal pay in men’s and women’s tennis, Ruth Holdaway, Chief Executive of Women in Sport, said:
“The comments made by Novak Djokovic and Raymond Moore today really sadden me.
“For as long as I can remember, tennis has been at the forefront of the fight for gender equality in sport. Billie Jean King changed life not just for female athletes, but for all women and girls across the United States with her battle for equality in the 1970s. Her efforts ultimately resulted in the USA’s Title IV legislation which has ensured girls and boys receive the same investment in sport throughout their education.
“Venus Williams led the successful campaign for equal pay at Wimbledon, and tennis is often cited as an example of how the women’s and men’s games have equal standing, respect and value.
“So these comments from Djokovic and Moore are not only deeply offensive they are also extremely harmful to a sport that has previously been an example for others to aspire to.
“Novak Djokovic is wrong. Female athletes should not be valued less than their male counterparts – and having queued for tickets to many tennis tournaments over the years I can assure him that the crowds are equally excited about the women’s matches as the men’s – and demand for the sport has nothing to do with gender.
“With Britain’s female athletes receiving only 0.4% of all the commercial investment in sport and only 7% of media coverage; and with nearly 2m fewer women than men playing sport once a week, we can do without this sort of sexist comment. Women have as much right as men to play sport and prosper from it – whether financially or simply getting all the fitness and wider social benefits sport can bring.
“Djokovic is a role model – and he needs to understand the impact his words can have – perhaps he might reflect on giving his female colleagues the respect they deserve.”