"Nothing says 'celebrate female athletes' like a male who advocated against equal pay" - Novak Djokovic presenting women's Ballon d'Or award irks fans

Novak Djokovic present the women
Novak Djokovic present the women's Ballon d'Or award

Novak Djokovic being selected to present the 2023 Ballon d'Or Feminin award to Spain and Barcelona Femeni star, Aitana Bonmati, elicited outraged reactions from fans.

On Monday, October 30, Djokovic attended the Ballon d'Or ceremony at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris. The Serb walked the red carpet and even shared an embrace with Lionel Messi during the event.

While Messi clinched his record eighth Ballon d'Or award, Aitana Bonmati received the prestigious women's trophy for her contributions to Spain's FIFA World Cup triumph and her outstanding season with Barcelona. Djokovic took the stage to present the award, delivering a short speech before handing the trophy to Bonmati.

The selection of the Serb as the presenter of the women's award did not sit well with fans. One fan criticized the choice by citing the 24-time Grand Slam champion's controversial comments on the gender wage gap in tennis.

"Nothing says 'celebrate the achievement of female athletes' like inviting a male athlete who advocated against equal pay to talk about himself and the completely different sport he plays," the fan posted.

Another fan questioned why a male athlete from a different sport was presenting the women's award, considering that female athletes such as Coco Gauff or cricketer Tahlia McGrath weren't doing the same for the men's trophy.

"Wow they got a male athlete from a completely different sport to present the trophy to the winner? Who’s going to present the men’s trophy? Coco Gauff? Tahlia McGrath? No, didn’t think so," the fan commented.

Here are a few more fan reactions:

Novak Djokovic: "I was deciding whether I was going to play football or tennis and I chose tennis, I don't know whether it was a good choice"

Novak Djokovic at the 2023 Ballon d'Or ceremony
Novak Djokovic at the 2023 Ballon d'Or ceremony

While presenting the women's Ballon d'Or award, Novak Djokovic opened up about his deep-rooted love for football, stemming from his father's professional background in the sport.

"Obviously, surrounded with the best players in the world in the greatest sport in the world. The sport that I grew up with, playing every single day. My father was a professional football player so I did play a little bit," he said.

The 24-time Grand Slam champion also disclosed that he had once contemplated whether to pursue a professional career in tennis or football and joked about being unsure if he had made the right choice.

"I think I was nine or 10 years old and I was deciding whether I was going to play football or tennis and I chose tennis. I don't know whether it was a good choice, I think it was but of course I still avidly follow football, I'm a great great fan," he added.

Djokovic is currently in France for the 2023 Paris Masters. After a bye in the first round, the World No. 1 will take on either Tomas Martin Etcheverry or Miomir Kecmanovic in the second round.

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