Indian Wells CEO Ray Moore is in serious hot water today. After another successful event, the well-respected head of what many call the best event on the calendar, put his foot right in his mouth today declaring that the women’s tour should “get on their knees” and thank Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for lifting them up.
“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 today before the women’s final. “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.
“And now the mantle is being handed over to Djokovic and Murray and some others. You know, that’s good. We have no complaints. You know, we pay equal prize money. Do all those things. We don’t have any complaints.”
After the firestorm, Moore backed off those comments, saying in a statement, “At my morning breakfast with the media, I made comments about the WTA that were in extremely poor taste and erroneous. I am truly sorry for those remarks, and apologize to all the players and WTA as a whole. We had a women’s final today that reflects the strength of the players, especially Serena and Victoria, and the entire WTA. Again, I am truly sorry for my remarks.”
Moore also raised an eyebrow or two suggesting the WTA has a good future because of attractive players like Garbine Muguruza and Eugenie Bouchard.
“I think the WTA have a handful – not just one or two – but they have a handful of very attractive prospects that can assume the mantle,” Moore said. “You know, Muguruza, Genie Bouchard. They have a lot of very attractive players. And the standard in ladies tennis has improved unbelievably.”
Then he sort of clarified. “They are physically attractive and competitively attractive,” he said. “They can assume the mantle of leadership once Serena decides to stop. I think they really have quite a few very, very attractive players.”
Serena, who boycotted the event for so long, wasn’t amused and hit back at Moore.
“If you read the transcript you can only interpret it one way,” Serena said. “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.
“Last year the women’s final at the US Open sold out well before the men,” Serena went on. “I’m sorry, did Roger play in that final or Rafa or any man play in that final that was sold out before the men’s final? I think not. So I just feel like in order to make a comment you have to have history and you have to have facts and you have to know things. You have to know of everything. I mean, you look at someone like Billie Jean King who opened so many doors for not only women’s players but women’s athletes in general.
“So I feel like, you know, that is such a disservice to her and every female, not only a female athlete but every woman on this planet, that has ever tried to stand up for what they believed in and being proud to be a woman.”
What’s even more interesting is new WTA Steve Simon CEO was in charge of Indian Wells until last fall. So what will he tell Moore? And what will owner Larry Ellison do to reprimand Moore?
Statement from WTA head Steve Simon: “As the tournament director of one of the preeminent events in professional tennis, the comments made today by Raymond Moore were extremely disappointing and alarming. 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.”
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