CEO of the Indian Wells tennis tournament, Raymond Moore, has stepped down from his role one day after saying that the women’s tour “rides on the coat-tails” of the men’s game.
Moore has come under heavy criticism after he declared that women in tennis “don’t make any decisions” and are “very, very lucky”, during an interview before Victoria Azarenka beat Serena Williams in the women’s final on Sunday.
“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 also described several female tennis players as “physically attractive”.
Moore later tendered an apology, saying his comments were “in extremely poor taste” and that he was sorry. However, the damage was done and members of tennis community immediately took to twitter to express their displeasure.
Serena Williams also responded to Moore’s remarks, saying: “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.”
A statement from Larry Ellison, owner of the Californian tournament, on Tuesday said Moore had “decided to step down”. “I fully understand his decision,” he said.
The statement also praised the progress of women’s tennis “thanks to the leadership of Bille Jean, Martina Navratilova, Venus Williams, Serena Williams and so many other great women athletes”.
“I would like to personally thank all the great women athletes who fought “so hard for so many years in the pursuit of equal prize money in professional tennis. And I’d like to congratulate them on their success,” it went on.
Two days ago (Sunday), Novak Djokovic, winner of the men’s final at Indian Wells, made more controversial statements saying that male players should get more prize money than their female counterparts because their game attracted more viewers.