Indian Wells CEO Raymond Moore would like to apologize to all the “lady tennis players” out there.
Before Sunday’s women’s final between Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka at the BNP Paribas Open, Moore – a former pro and the tournament’s director – was asked about the current state of the Women’s Tennis Association. And, boy, did he have a lot to say about the organization and the aforementioned athletes that compete in it.
“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. They don’t make any decisions and they are lucky,” Moore 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.”
Moore added that the WTA does have plenty of stars of its own – singling out Williams and Maria Sharapova – and then was asked by a reporter about the perceived lack of competition in the WTA ranks. Here’s his response:
“I think the WTA have a handful of very attractive prospects that can assume the mantle…They have a lot of very attractive players. They are physically attractive and competitively attractive.”
Moore would subsequently apologize for his remarks, calling them “extremely erroneous” and “in poor taste” (no shit.) But they still managed to cast a shadow on the Paribas women’s final, which saw Azarenka defeat Williams 6-4, 6-4 to take the title – so much so that both women were asked about the controversy in their postmatch press conferences.
Azarenka was diplomatic – though she did sink a few daggers – telling reporters “[The] men don’t get those comments…Every single person on earth was born by a woman, so I think people should remember that sometimes.” Williams echoed those sentiments, and took understandable umbrage at Moore’s remarks about women’s players dropping to their knees.
“Obviously, I don’t think any woman should be down on their knees thanking anybody like that,” Williams said. “I think Venus [Williams], myself, a number of players… 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.
“You know, there’s only one way to interpret that,” she continued, when asked if Moore was misunderstood. “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.”