Serena Williams gets Novak Djokovic comments on gender wrong
Serena Williams on Tuesday responded to Novak Djokovic’s comments on pay by gender in tennis by asking how he would explain his comments to children. Though Williams gave strong comments, her remarks indicate she may not have heard the entirety of Djokovic’s remarks.
The debate about equal pay was renewed when Indiana Wells CEO Raymond Moore made some sexist remarks saying women should be on their knees being thankful that some popular men came along to help the sport of tennis. His remarks were inappropriate, offensive, and ignored the accomplishments and contributions any popular female players made to the sport over time.
Though world No. 1 male player Djokovic did not say women should be on their knees thanking the men, he did say he felt for combined events that pay should not just outright be equal, but rather based on who the bigger draw is and who’s bringing more money into the pot. He even said that if women were more popular and doing bigger ratings, they should receive MORE pay than the men.
He did not argue for men to be paid more simply because they are men; he said he wants the pay to be based on metrics of interest in the sport.
“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,” Djokovic said. “I think that’s one of the, you know, reasons why maybe we should get awarded more. Women should fight for what they think they deserve and we should fight for what we think we deserve.
“I think as long as it’s like that and there is data and stats available and information, upon who attracts more attention, spectators, who sells more tickets and stuff like that, in relation to that it has to be fairly distributed.”
Djokovic did not say nobody wants to watch women or that they aren’t draws. He just wants more because he thinks he’s a bigger draw currently. It’s a fluid matter, not a statement that men should now, always and forever be paid more than women because they are men.
However, Serena’s response indicated she did not listen or hear Djokovic’s comments.
“If I have a daughter who plays tennis and also have a son that plays tennis, I wouldn’t say that my son deserves more because he is a man. If they both started at three years old I would say they both deserve the same amount of money,” she said.
“I have been playing since the age of two and it would be shocking to say my son would deserve more than my daughter. It is irrelevant. Novak is entitled to his opinion but if he has a daughter – I think he has a son right now – he should talk to her and tell her how his son deserves more money because he is a boy.
“It all boils down to that. I would never put a sex against another sex. I think it’s unfair to compare, we have had so many great women champions and players who have brought such great vision to the sport. There have been great men players too, but women’s tennis is the biggest sport for women – period.”
Nowhere in his comments did Djovokic say men deserve more than women. Nowhere did he say that if he has a son and daughter that his son should get more money playing tennis. What he said is that if he tells his kids that they will get paid based on how many leaves they rake in the yard, his son will get more money if he rakes 10 leaves compared to his daughters two leaves, and vice versa.
If you are categorizing Djokovic’s comments as sexist, then you are missing his message. He wants equal opportunity for women, fairness, and most of all, capitalism. I agree with that message.
Now, if you want to tell me that it is simply too difficult to measure whether men or women are bigger draws or who sells more tickets to combined events, and therefore the easiest and best way to divide money is 50/50 among genders, then that is certainly an argument I can understand and potentially agree with. If you say that then pitting the men against the women in competition for prize money at events is bad for the sport overall, then I could hear that argument. But to simply boil Djokovic’s comments down to “he’s saying men should be paid more than women” tells me you did not really read what he said.