Indian Wells’ chief executive Raymond Moore has resigned from his position following controversial comments he made about women’s tennis in a news conference.
On the eve of both the men’s and women’s finals, won by Serbia’s Novak Djokovic and Belarus’ Victoria Azerenka respectively, the 69-year-old claimed that the women’s game “rides on the coat-tails of the men”.
“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 said.
His comments were criticised by women’s world number one Serena Williams, beaten in the women’s final, with the American claiming that the remarks were “mistaken and very, very, very inaccurate”.
Martina Navratilova, an 18-time Grand Slam champion, warned that female players could boycott the tournament in future as a response to Moore’s comments, which he later apologised for.
“It is really disheartening to see Ray Moore offer the extremely prejudiced and very old-fashioned statements regarding women tennis players,” Navratilova said.
“We have made it this far on our own, without help from male players, and will continue to do so.
“It would be hard to imagine any women wanting to go and play at Indian Wells if Moore stays as the tournament director.”
BNP Paribas Open owner Larry Ellison has since released a statement to confirm that he had met with Moore, who revealed he was resigning from his roles at the California tournament, an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event.
“Ray let me know that he has decided to step down from his roles as CEO and Tournament Director effective immediately,” Ellison said.
“I fully understand his decision.
“Nearly half-a-century ago, Billie Jean King began her historic campaign for the equal treatment of women in tennis.
“What followed is an ongoing, multi-generational, progressive movement to treat women and men in sports equally.
“I’m proud to say that it is now a decade long tradition at our tournament at Indian Wells, and all the major tennis tournaments, to pay equal prize money to both the women and the men.”
While Djokovic had labelled Moore’s comments as having been “not politically correct”, the Serbian star suggested that men could be paid more prize money.
The world number one claimed that more people watched the men’s game and that money could be distributed based on “who attracts more attention, spectators and who sells more tickets”.
Women are currently paid the same as men at the four Grand Slam tournaments, despite playing best of three sets to their counterparts’ five.
- By Michael Pavitt
- Republished with permission insidethegames.biz