DJOKovic backs up aFTER chatting with EVERT, KING
KEY BISCAYNE — Novak Djokovic met with Hall of Famers Billie Jean King and Chris Evert on Wednesday to hear their thoughts about equal prize money, and the world's top-ranked men's player backpedaled on his controversial comments on the topic made after his tournament win at Indian Wells, Calif., on Sunday.
Djokovic made his initial comments after Indian Wells chief operating officer and tournament director Raymond Moore said female players should be thankful to their male counterparts "because they ride on the coattails of the men." Moore resigned Monday.
Djokovic tried to clarify his stance that men should earn more prize money because they draw more spectators.
"When I say about the distribution of the wealth and when I say about growth of the sport, I don't make any difference amongst the gender," he said. "My beliefs are completely in line with gender equality and equal opportunities. We are all part of the same sport, and we all contribute in our own unique and special ways."
When pressed on what exactly that means, Djokovic insisted that he has never had an issue with equal opportunity in sports. But he confused the issue when he expanded on his thoughts about wealth distribution at certain tournaments among higher-ranked players, saying he meant all players.
Evert pointed to Djokovic's cultural upbringing in Serbia as a possible reason behind some of his views.
"I doubt you hear that as much from the American men's tennis players, and I'm sort of applauding the Americans for that," Evert said. "I think the Europeans … later on took a cue from the Americans, and I think Americans accepted equality on a lot of different levels earlier than Europe did."
King, who founded the WTA, chose not to take shots at Moore and focused on putting the controversy behind everyone.
"I've known Ray since the '60s when I used to go to South Africa (Moore's native country) when there was apartheid, and he really helped fight (against) that, and so I always appreciate the good that Ray's done, and I think he's sorry for what he said," King said. "I really like Ray, and he's done some great things for us."
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