The Indian Wells Tennis CEO who said top women’s tennis players “ride on the coattails of the men” has stepped down, Sky News reports. Raymond Moore has resigned as chief executive officer and tournament director of the BNP Paribas Open, tournament owner Larry Ellison announced on late Monday. Mr Moore sparked outrage on Sunday when he said the women’s game was “very lucky” to match the men’s take-home winnings.
He said: “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.” The 69-year-old South African later apologised for his sexist remarks which he said were “in extremely poor taste and erroneous”, but not before he was roundly criticised by women’s and men’s pros alike.
Serena Williams, the women’s world number one and 21-time Grand Slam champion, said: “Obviously, I don’t think any woman should be down on their knees thanking anybody like that. “If I could tell you every day how many people say they don’t watch tennis unless they’re watching myself or my sister (Venus Williams), I couldn’t even bring up that number.”
Billie Jean King, who co-founded the WTA Tour, tweeted: “Disappointed in #RaymondMoore comments. He is wrong on so many levels. Every player, especially the top players, contribute to our success.” The tide of outrage later found a new target in Tennis world number one Novak Djokovic who responded to Mr Moore’s comments by suggesting that men should be paid more prize money than women
Djokovic, fresh from claiming a fifth Indian Wells title yesterday, acknowledged Moore’s comments were “not politically correct” and that women players had “fought for what they deserve, and they got it”. However, he also suggested the men’s tour should receive more money because they attract more fans to games.
“I think that our men’s tennis world … should fight for more because the stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men’s tennis matches,” he said. “I think that’s one of the reasons why maybe we should get awarded more.”
Raymond Moore oversaw the $7 million tournament in the California desert that features both men’s and women’s players for several years.