Madrid: Madrid Open owner Ion Tiriac has indicated his tournament may move away from equal pay for men and women.

The debate was reignited in March by controversial comments from Indian Wells tournament director Raymond Moore about women players “riding on the coat-tails” of the men.

Novak Djokovic with the title after winning the Madrid Open final  on Sunday.
Novak Djokovic with the title after winning the Madrid Open final on Sunday. pic/AFP

Moore subsequently resigned but the issue has continued to bubble under the surface. Madrid and Indian Wells are two of three major tournaments outside the grand slams along with Miami that pay equal prize money.

Tiriac, a flamboyant Romanian and former top-10 player told The New York Times: “I like, very much more, women than men. All my life, I’ve done that. The longer the legs theirs are, the more beautiful they are. Even in tennis, they’re gracious and so on.

Ion Tiriac
Ion Tiriac

TV rights matter
“But I think we have to go and calculate how much money are the men putting on the table, and how much the women, with TV rights. “Because otherwise we have to compensate and you cannot compensate forever. For that reason, it’s a beautiful sport, but I don’t think the women can complain that they don’t earn enough money.”

Tiriac said he was in negotiations with both tours but would struggle to pay equal prize money. “If I increase the women’s, too, I am broke and I don’t know how to do a tennis event. Saying that they’re equal — they’re not equal. I prefer a woman on the court, they are beautiful. I prefer an elegant woman. But they are not bringing to the table the same thing.”