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Grautski: Women battle Novak’s subtle sexism, not ‘hormones'

Novak Djokovic supports women’s tennis players fighting for equal pay... he just thinks men deserve more.Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic supports women’s tennis players fighting for equal pay… he just thinks men deserve more.

Novak Djokovic believes male tennis players deserve more prize money than female tennis players and that women have the added challenge of battling “hormones,” but he’s not sexist.

He can’t be.

See, Djokovic says he’s “surrounded by women.” He’s had a female coach. He’s even married to a woman. I bet he could even list off a dozen more women that he knows if he tried.

“I’m completely for women power,” he says.

Let me take some time out of dealing with my overwhelming, estrogen-charged mood swings and cooking duties to point out that more than half the population is women. You should be “surrounded” by women. But listing off distant cousins, doctors and passers-by who are women doesn’t make it okay to perpetuate an antiquated idea: that women deserve less, that women are hormone-driven creatures and that women are the only ones sacrificing “family time.”

Djokovic’s remarks were sparked by statements made by Raymond Moore, the Indian Wells Tennis Garden CEO who said Sunday that the Women’s Tennis Association rides on “the coattails” of men.

“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,” Moore said, in addition to other disgusting comments about how “attractive” certain female tennis players are.

The out-of-touch CEO has since apologized, but there was one woman who had a big problem with Moore’s comments. Heck, I bet Djokovic knows her.

Raymond MooreMark J. Terrill/AP

Raymond Moore

“Last year the women’s final at the U.S. Open sold out well before the men,” Serena Williams reminded reporters Sunday. “I’m sorry, did Roger play in that final or Rafa or any man play in a final that was sold out before the men’s final? I think not. There’s only one way to interpret that. Get on your knees, which is offensive enough, and thank a man, which is not — we, as women, have come a long way. We shouldn’t have to drop to our knees at any point.”

Djokovic’s dig at women’s tennis players was more subtle than Moore’s dig; the Serb says that they “deserve respect and admiration” and that he applauds them for advocating for equal prize money but, basically, men should get more: They attract more “attention,” more “spectators.”

Never mind that Serena landed on front and back pages everywhere Sept. 12, the day after she was upset in the 2015 U.S. Open semifinals by Roberta Vinci because people gave a damn about her Grand Slam quest ending — or that her quarterfinals matchup against her sister, Serena, had resulted in ESPN’s second-best tennis ratings ever (ESPN began televising certain U.S. Open matches in 2009).

There are a lot of people who care about women’s tennis. But, you know, it’s adorable that those women — including Serena, Sports Illustrated’s 2015 Sportsperson of the Year — believe they deserve equal pay. I mean, they’ve earned it, considering Djokovic says “they have to go through a lot of different things” that men don’t have to go through, right?

“You know, the hormones and different stuff, we don’t need to get into details,” Djokovic explains as a woman is running for president.

“Many of them have to sacrifice for certain periods of time, the family time…” he says as Adam LaRoche is retiring from baseball so he can spend more time with his 14-year-old son.

Djokovic sounds like a man who thought he could backtrack a bit and use words to soften his belief that men deserve more, that he deserves more. But I cringe as he stumbles over himself, desperately trying to convey that he likes women — no, loves women. Women are awesome!

Serena WilliamsMark J. Terrill/AP

Serena Williams

One of the biggest challenges a woman faces has nothing to do with any of the things Djokovic rattled off: It’s subtle sexism.

It’s easy to spot someone who is being blatantly sexist, like Moore. And by now, it’s generally frowned upon (although judging by tweets and e-mails I’ve received before, those people are very much still lurking out there).

It’s tougher when it’s a little more subtle.

When Djokovic first heard of Moore’s comments, he said they were “not politically correct.” Notice, he never said Moore was wrong.

See, in 2016 it’s more subtle. You’ll hear a lot of “women are equals but…” — and there’s always a but. Some of these people don’t even realize they’re being sexist. Though some do, “but maybe I’m just not explaining it right.”

No Novak, I think we’re reading you loud and clear.

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