Women could boycott Indian Wells over comments - Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilova won nine Wimbledon singles titles
Martina Navratilova won nine Wimbledon singles titles

Martina Navratilova says she would not be surprised if female players boycotted Indian Wells as a result of the row ignited by the tournament's chief executive.

Raymond Moore said the women's game "rides on the coat-tails" of the men and that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal have "carried this sport".

Moore, 69, has since apologised.

But Navratilova, an 18-time Grand Slam winner, says women may not want to play at Indian Wells if he stays in charge.

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The 59-year said the views of South African Moore were "really disheartening", "extremely prejudiced" and "very old-fashioned".

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"We have made it this far on our own, without help from male players, and will continue to do so in the future," Navratilova added.

"It would be hard to imagine any women to want to go and play at Indian Wells if Moore stays as the tournament director."

Navratilova was also disappointed by comments from world number one Novak Djokovic, who said he believes men should be awarded more prize money than women because it was more popular.

Speaking after his straight-sets win over Milos Raonic in the men's final at Indian Wells, the Serb said women deserve the money they get, but men should fight for more because their game attracts more viewers.

"Novak Djokovic, as much as I love him, clearly doesn't understand why, when women and men play in combined tournaments, they must be paid equally," Navratilova said. "I thought we settled that issue years ago."

World number one Serena Williams said Moore's statement was "offensive", calling it "mistaken and very, very, very inaccurate".

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There has been equal prize money in all four majors - the Australian Open, US Open, French Open and Wimbledon - since 2007, as well as at combined Masters events, such as Indian Wells and Miami.

But female players are paid significantly less at women-only events when compared with similar-sized men's tournaments.

Who else has spoken out?

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) said player equality is a "bedrock" principle and has been extremely critical of Moore.

"There is no place in this sport for antiquated, sexist or uninformed ideologies," read a statement from Katrina Adams, who is the USTA's chairman, chief executive and president.

She added that Moore's remarks "in no way reflect the beliefs of the vast majority of those in the tennis world".

Chris Kermode, chief executive of the Association of Tennis Professionals, called Moore's comments "disparaging" and said they had been "made in poor taste".

Former British Davis Cup captain David Lloyd backed Djokovic's assertion that the men's game was more popular than the women's right now but said the opposite had been true in the past.

Lloyd said the women's game had been "better" to watch than the men's when Steffi Graf and Monica Seles were at their peak in the early 1990s. As a result, the public had been willing to pay more to see them play.

"It's supply and demand and it could swing back in the future," he said.

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