The CEO of the Indian Wells tennis tournament, Raymond Moore’s reprehensible words that took tennis back to the dark ages, is feeling the heat today, for sexist comments he made, before Sunday’s final at the BNP Paribas Open, about the men and women on the professional tennis tour.
“In my next life when I come back I want to be someone in the WTA, because they ride on the coattails of the men,” he told reporters, referring to the organization that runs the women’s game. “They don’t make any decisions and they are lucky.
“They are very, very lucky. 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. They really have.”
He later apologized in a statement but the damage had been done and drew swift reaction. Twelve months after Serena Williams made her inspiring, magnanimous return to Indian Wells, the No. 1 ranked women’s singles tennis player wasn’t going to look past Moore’s remarks, apology or not.
The second-highest paid female athlete in 2015 took aim and fired back at Moore following her 6-4, 6-4 defeat in the final to Victoria Azarenka.
Williams said via ESPN:
“Obviously, I don’t think any woman should be down on their knees thanking anybody like that. I think Venus [Williams], myself, a number of players have been — if I could tell you every day how many people say they don’t watch tennis unless they’re watching myself or my sister, I couldn’t even bring up that number. So I don’t think that is a very accurate statement. I think there is a lot of women out there who are more … are very exciting to watch. I think there are a lot of men out there who are exciting to watch. I think it definitely goes both ways. I think those remarks are very much mistaken and very, very, very inaccurate.”
Williams also didn’t buy that Moore’s statements could have been taken out of context.
“Well, if you read the transcript, you can only interpret it one way. I speak very good English. I’m sure he does too. You know, 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.”
The WTA announced Monday that Moore’s comments are under review.
“The WTA has no tolerance for these kind of statements, this is a breach of our Code of Conduct and the board will review accordingly,” the statement from WTA CEO Steve Simon said. “The WTA stands on its own and was founded on the principles of equality and empowerment. I am proud of all the strong athletes on the WTA who put in hard work and sacrifice every single day. Tennis as a whole is enriched by the contributions and accomplishments of every player, both female and male.”
Tennis great Billie Jean King, who fought tirelessly for equality in sports, tweeted her disapproval with the 69-year-old Moore.
“Disappointed in Raymond Moore comments,” the 12-time grand slam champion said. “He is wrong on so many levels. Every player, especially the top players, contribute to our success.”
Interview request from BW from with Indian Wells tournament owner Larry Ellison, (who listed by Forbes as one of the 10 richest people in the world) were not returned, neither were request from tournament spokesman Matt Van Tuinen.
Steve Simon, Indian Wells’ tournament director before Moore — called Moore’s words “extremely disappointing and alarming.”