Novak Djokovic
Djokovic's art of diplomacy evaded him in Indian Wells. Getty Images

As metronomic as an Andre Agassi return, as comprehensive as Agnieszka Radwanska's court-coverage and as a consistent as a Serena Williams serve; tennis has once again shot itself in the foot.

The closing of the stable door after the horse has bolted response to high-profile match fixing, the embarrassing premeditation of Maria Sharapova's doping revelation and now the sexism storm created by the world's number one player and the head of the sport's biggest Masters Series event caps a period of shame.

The saddest thing about the comments from Novak Djokovic, which stemmed from remarks coming from Indian Wells chief executive Raymond Moore who heads up the opening Masters 1000 tournament of the season, which this year played to a paying audience of 421,063, is among their comments lies a relevant point which has been lost. Much like the response to fixing or Sharapova's plea of forgiveness, they mask the true tale, though in a vastly different manner.

But first, the denunciation. The language used by Moore and particularly Djokovic, is worrying from two men in such prominent positions within their sport. Moore, 69, has caused outrage by suggesting first that its players "ride on the coattails of the men" and then that they should "go down every night" on their knee "and thank God" for the presence of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the sport.

Moore's claims, for which he has apologised, are at best patronising and at worst prehistoric bigotry which embarrasses the sport in which he holds such a key role. The South African should resign with immediate effect for the offence which he has caused. Some of Djokovic's comments meanwhile, particularly those regarding women's battling hormones, look less pre-meditated and more clumsy yet he should not go unpunished. His winnings from beating Milos Raonic in the Indian Wells final, some £715,000 [$1.028m] should be donated straight to the Women's Tennis Association.

The 11-time major winner operates in such a professional manner and has shown himself to be knowledgable regarding the political and social landscape in the past, that it is surprising he has allowed himself to be dragged into this latest storm. Though the debate raised by the Serbian, which supports up Moore's sentiments, is not a new one and it exposes the belief held within the sport that the women's game is the lowest common denominator.

Raymond Moore
Moore's Indian Wells tournament is the biggest Masters 1000 event on the calendar. Getty Images

That view is shared among sponsors, broadcasters, tournaments and fans. During the fleeting moments when ATP and WTA tour event runs concurrently at the same venue outside of the grand slams, the women's event is enriched by the men rather than the other way around. Even at the four major tournaments in Melbourne, Paris, London and New York it is the men's final which is the crescendo to the singles competition, rather than the women's. Though "riding on the coattails" is an extreme description from Moore, there is no doubt interest in the women's game is assisted by the presence of their male counterparts.

That is not to say that Djokovic is on the money regarding equal pay. The WTA campaigned valiantly for equality at the big grand slam and Masters events and from 2007 they have basked in the same financial rewards as the men, and rightly so. Players win the same title after prevailing in the same amount of matches. Tournaments run separately reward players based on their own fiscal restraints, which is often dictated by the talent on show, and they are well within their rights.

Whether the female game is run over three or five sets is largely irrelevant. On his way to winning the Australian Open in 2011, Djokovic played just 17 sets during the fortnight while on route to claiming last year's French Open crown Serena Williams played 19. Unless we are about to enter an era where players are paid based on court time, like zero hours shift workers, then the equal payment debate can be firmly put to bed.

Moore and Djokovic will likely have to face the music in the coming days as the reaction to their comments grows. What will be forgotten is amid the rubble of controversy is an undeniable view. But where their sport led in inadequate explanation, they duly followed and fell into the trap.