Tennis ace Novak Djokovic backs equality in the game
Novak Djokovic has further backtracked on his suggestion on Sunday that men's prize money should be higher than that paid in women's tennis.
The subject has dominated the news agenda ever since BNP Paribas Open tournament director Raymond Moore said ahead of Sunday's finals at the tournament that women's tennis "rides on the coattails" of the men's game.
Moore also said female players should "get down on (their) knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born", and commented on the physical attractiveness of players such as Eugenie Bouchard and Garbine Muguruza.
He has since apologised and resigned, and Djokovic has been on a damage-limitation course of his own after saying, following his win over Milos Raonic in the final at Indian Wells that "the stats show we have much more spectators on the men's tennis matches. I think that's one of the reasons why maybe we should get awarded more".
Serena Williams, the beaten finalist in the women's event, led the opposition to his comments while British men's number one Andy Murray spoke out strongly in support of equal prize money.
Djokovic apologised on his Facebook page on Tuesday night and reiterated his contrition at a press conference at the Miami Open on Wednesday.
"I have just been speaking with Billie Jean King about opportunities tennis players have and the influences we can have in different fields of life," he said.
"Andy sent me a message, we spoke very openly and frankly. I sent a message to Serena, Caroline Wozniacki and others, I just wanted them to understand and I never had any intention to offend or have a negative connotation of my statements.
"I don't make any differences between the genders. I am for equality in the sport.
"I feel very sorry if, in any way, I hurt my female colleague tennis players. I have a very good relationship with all of them. I have a huge respect for all of them."
He added: "I was shocked at the effect this story had in the media. There is a lot attention on what I say and I want to repeat there were no bad intentions.
"What Raymond Moore said was very inappropriate and people thought I was speaking in line with him."
Britain's Aljaz Bedene overcame the disappointment of Davis Cup rejection to beat Spain's Roberto Carballes Baena in three sets at the Miami Open.
Bedene, who was told on Wednesday he would not be allowed to represent Great Britain in the Davis Cup, came from behind to beat Carballes Baena 4-6 6-2 6-3.