Serena Williams has slammed Novak Djokovic for saying men deserved more prize money than women, questioning how he would explain a gender pay gap to his children.
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Public stoushes do not come much bigger in the tennis world – Williams is ranked No.1 in the women's competition, while Djokovic is top of the table in the men's.
Williams was firm in her takedown of Djokovic, who earlier this week suggested men should be awarded more prize money because their games attracted more viewers.
But Djokovic has since taken to social media to say the euphoria and adrenalin got the best of him when he made his comments. However, he did not clearly express his opinion on whether men and women should get equal pay.
"Tennis helped me so much in my life and being where I am today, I felt the need to speak about the fairer and better distribution of funds across the board - this was meant for both men and women," he said.
"We all have to fight for what we deserve. This was never meant to be made into a fight between genders and differences in pay, but in the way all players are rewarded for their play and effort."
Williams' earlier comments were strong.
"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 was quoted as saying in the Guardian.
"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," she said.
Britain's Andy Murray, a long-time rival of Djokovic, had said the Serbian player's comments were strange and disappointing.
Murray said over the last decade men's tennis had benefited from some high-profile rivalries, but women players were also able to draw strong crowds.
Speaking at the start of the Miami Open, Murray said women deserved the same prize money as men at all combined events.
"At a tournament like this, for example, if Serena is playing on centre court and you have a men's match with [Sergiy] Stakhovsky playing, people are coming to watch Serena," he said.
"The crowds are coming to watch the women as well. The whole thing just doesn't stack up – it changes on a day-to‑day basis depending on the matches you get."
Djokovic made his initial remarks after Indian Wells tournament director Raymond Moore said women tennis players should be on their knees thanking the men for their contribution to the sport.
Moore has since resigned.
World No.115 Stakhovsky has in the past called for men to be paid more than women.