Djokovic clarifies: Serb always in favour of equal prize money

Novak Djokovic attempted on Wednesday to draw a line under confusion regarding his thoughts on equal tennis prize money, with the world number one saying that while he supports the concept, he's done answering repeated queries on the subject.

The player who heads the men's field at the ATP-WTA Miami Masters created some confusion after remarks on Sunday following his title at Indian Wells when some suggested he did not give a strident defence to the issue of equal prize payouts for men and women.

The controversy over political correctness erupted in the white heat of hysteria over an off-the-cuff remark from now-departed Indian Wells tournament director Raymond Moore.

The South African pioneer of the sport four decades ago found his half-century career on the rubbish heap in a matter of 48 hours after he said that women players rode "on the coat-tails of the men" and were "very, very lucky" to have equal prize money thanks to the massive popularity of men's stars Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

"If I was a lady player, I'd go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport."

The resulting Twitter-led troll furore led to his resignation 48 hours after the Sunday statement, which enraged come female players and drew fire from the male likes of "feminist" Andy Murray (coached by a women) and others.

Djokovic said that his own remarks had been misinterpreted. He added that a Tuesday Facebook post would hopefully be his last word on the touchy topic.

So strong was the backlash that Billie Jean King and Chris Evert felt the need to stage a media conference to express their dis-satisfaction with the entire situation.

Djokovic said he met afterwards with the pair, engaging in a cordial conversation.

"What I said (Sunday) didn't come across so well to some people," said Djokovic, who suggested that the marketplace should truly determine the level of reward. "My intentions were not for a split second wrong.

"I'm sorry if I hurt female colleagues and tennis players, I have good relationship with all of them."

The Serb said that he sent texts to his female friends in the sport including Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Serena Williams and Murray, among others.

"It's my duty to share my opinion on the distribution of wealth in our sport. I don't make any difference among the genders.

"We are all part of same sport, we all contribute in our own special, unique ways."

Turning to actual tennis, the top seed said he was happy to welcome back rival Roger Federer, who will be playing for the first time since undergoing a knee procedure following the Australian Open.

"It's great to have Roger back, he's such an important player for the sport and a big personality.

"It's great that all the top players are here. I look forward to start the tournament," said the winner of the last two editions.

"This tournament is special for me, It was the first big event I won in 2007 and it's been the springboard for all that has happened since in my career."

On court, men began first-round play, with German teenager Alexander Zverev beating American Michael Mmoh 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-4) while Briton Kyle Edmund will be the first opponent for Djokovic after defeating Jiri Vesely 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (8-6).

On the women's side, Brit Heather Watson started with a defeat of Czech Petra Cetkovska 6-1, 6-0 and France's Alize Cornet won her first match since the Australian Open, stopping Galina Voskoboeva 6-4, 7-5.

Last update: Tue, 28/06/2016 - 17:25

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