When I recently heard the words coming out of the mouth of Raymond Moore, CEO and Tournament Director of Indian Wells in Arizona, home of the prestigious BNP Paribas Open tennis event, I said, “Uh, oh. Are you kidding?”
Moore, a veteran tennis guy, said, and I quote, “I think the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association)….you know, 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. 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.”
Umm, yeah, Ray, you don’t tell any woman alive to get down on her knees and give thanks to any man, unless you are speaking in religious terms. Moore, who for 29 years was involved with Indian Wells tournament, made a cardinal sin (no pun intended); he uttered incredibly misguided misogynistic words in a time of political correctness.
To make matters worse, he also said, “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. You know, Garbine Muguruza, Genie Bouchard. They have a lot of very attractive players.” When asked about the adjective “attractive” in relation to women in tennis, Moore said, “They are physically attractive and competitively attractive. They can assume the mantle of leadership once Serena decides to stop. I think they’ve got…they really have quite a few very, very attractive players.”
Tennis is one sport where women have gained equal fame and equal money for their efforts, and not just because they are “attractive.” Women like Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, and before them Billy Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and many other women have held the interest of tennis fans, both male and female, and made the game sparkle with their play and charisma. Moore sounded like a neanderthal and he got what he deserved for his remarks: he resigned before he was fired.
Moore did apologize, but the damage was done after women, and men, everywhere issued worldwide condemnation of his bigoted retro thinking. Moore, 69, is a former professional player from South Africa.
Concerning Moore’s remarks, Serena Williams, arguably the greatest female player of all time, who could probably beat or give a good account of herself against some men on the Tour, said, “No matter the apology, there is no room to misinterpret the words of Indian Wells tournament CEO Ray Moore. And he is wrong.”
Serena Williams said she was surprised to hear sexist remarks such as Moore’s these days. “Yeah, I’m still surprised, especially with me and Venus and all the other women on the Tour that’s done well,” she said. “Last year, the women’s final at the U.S. Open sold out well before the men.”
Indian Wells tournament owner Larry Ellison brilliantly summed up the furor over Raymond Moore’s remarks about women in tennis when he said that there has been “ongoing, multi-generational, progressive movement to treat women and men in sports equally,” and that women and men have been paid equal prize money at all major tennis tournaments, including Indian Wells, for quite awhile.
“Thanks to the leadership of Billie Jean (King), Martina Navratilova, Venus Williams, Serena Williams and so many other great women athletes, an important measure of success has already been achieved,” he said. “All of us here at the BNP Paribas Open promise to continue working with everyone to make tennis a better sport for everybody.”
Moore’s type of thinking has no place in tennis, sports, or life in general.
by John Torsiello