Novak Djokovic has reached out to some of the biggest names in tennis in an attempt to smooth over a bubbling row over gender equality, after he suggested men ought to be paid more than women.
Djokovic has been a figure of controversy this week when he responded to former Indian Wells CEO Raymond Moore’s claims that females “ride on the coattails of the men” in tennis.
The world number one said on Monday: “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.”
Women’s number one Serena Williams and men’s second in the world Andy Murray were among current players to admonish Djokovic, while WTA founder Billie Jean King also made her displeasure clear.
Having clarified that his comments were intended to suggest all tennis players should seek greater pay, Djokovic has now hit the phones of his fellow tour members, and King.
Speaking ahead of his Miami Open campaign, Djokovic told reporters: “I was shocked at the effect this story had in the media.
“There is a lot attention on what I say and I want to repeat there were no bad intentions. What Raymond Moore said was very inappropriate and people thought I was speaking in line with him.
“I never had a problem with equality. I was referring to the tournaments and how the wealth is distributed to all players: high ranked , low ranked, female, male, young and old. We deserve more of the wealth distribution, for all genders.
“I have said everything I need to say. I have just been speaking with Billie Jean King about opportunities tennis players have and the influences we can have in different fields of life.
“Andy sent me a message, we spoke very openly and frankly, I sent a message to Serena, Caroline Wozniacki and others, I just wanted them to understand and I never had any intention to offend or have a negative connotation of my statements.”