Too bad that the Serb’s fumbling tongue got in the way of a grand opportunity to speak as a beacon for women in sports. (AP)
In the wake of Raymond Moore’s Indian Wells implosion on Sunday, it was odd to watch Novak Djokovic, knowing full well the criticism heaped on Moore, talk himself into a corner. The ATP tour’s unparalleled champ managed to hit most every mark cleanly in his 6-2, 6-0 drubbing of a hobbled Milos Raonic. He then proceeded to blow it in a post-match presser that possibly featured more unforced errors verbally than the mere four smacked by his racquet in the championship.
The Associated Press story was kind to Djokovic after the fact, offering a couple scattered quotes from him, including the throwaway line, “I’m completely for women power.”
Elsewhere among his remarks, he drummed up the subjects of equal pay and female hormones.
“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,” he said.
That led Martina Navratilova to text The New York Times’ Harvey Araton the following: “I thought we settled that issue years ago.”
She didn’t spare Moore either.
“It would be hard to imagine any women wanting to go and play at Indian Wells if Moore stays as the tournament director,” she said.
Novak Djokovic weighs in on Ray Moore’s remarks, equal prize money, and…female hormones? This was…not his best work. pic.twitter.com/dauOSP7iru
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) March 20, 2016
The women’s players won’t have to worry about that, it turns out, as Moore resigned from his post on Monday night.
It was Moore who couldn’t help himself from talking about “attractive” WTA players, while Djokovic took it to talk of hormones. Meanwhile, in the midst of recapping the dregs of this mini-saga, Araton, to his credit, noted that “objectification” can go both ways, and that it can even be intra-gender. He made that point in light of recent comments that Martina Hingis made about Anna Kournikova’s physical appearance.
“Obviously it’s a very delicate and sensitive subject to talk about,” Djokovic noted early on in front of the press.
Later, speaking at length without saying much, he mentioned how women’s bodies are different from men’s bodies, on down to “you know, the hormones and different stuff—we don’t need to go into details.”
The devil may be in the details, as the saying goes, but the foolhardy approach was right there on the surface. Too bad, then, that Djokovic’s fumbling tongue got in the way of a grand opportunity to speak as a beacon for women in sports. Too bad that his elder, the 69-year-old Moore, stumbled into upstaging Victoria Azarenka’s reintroduction to the Top 10 and Serena Williams’ 15-years-later return to an Indian Wells final.
When all is said and done, though, perhaps Serena, Azarenka and the rest of the WTA truly need no defending.
Don’t worry guys, we have Serena Williams to defend us pic.twitter.com/aZphOgsFKN
— Alex Spartz (@alex_spartz) March 21, 2016
Follow Jon on Twitter @jonscott9.