Tennis Tournament Director Raymond Moore Resigns Over Sexist Comments That Female Players Did Nothing For The Sport

Raymond Moore, the tournament director of the BNP Paribas Open, who said female professional tennis players “ride on the coattails of men,” resigned from his post on Monday night, the New York Times is reporting.

Larry Ellison, the owner of the tournament, said in a statement that Moore was quitting his post as the tournament director and chief executive director of the $7 million tennis event, which features men and women tennis professionals in the California desert.

“Ray let me know that he has decided to step down from his roles as CEO and tournament director effective immediately. I fully understand his decision,” Ellison said.

According to the Times, Moore courted controversy when he said at a news conference Sunday morning that women tennis players owed a debt of gratitude to male players who had provided them the opportunity to benefit from the sport.

He said, “In my next life, I want to be someone in the WTA, because they ride on the coattails of men. They don’t make any decisions and they are 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 carried the sport.”

The 69-year-old from South Africa, who has been CEO of the tournament since 2012, apologized for his comments after being criticized by players, including Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka, and drawing the ire of executives from the women and men pro tours, including Steve Simon, the chief executive of the WTA, whom Moore succeed as tournament director at Indian Wells.

Simon said the WTA board would consider disciplinary measures, as Moore’s words were seen as a breach of the association’s conduct. Serena Williams called Moore’s comments a disfavor to Billie Jean King, a co-founder of the WTA tour, all female athletes, and every proud woman who had stood up for whatever they believed in. Billie Jean King went on to tweet that she was disappointed in Moore’s comments, stating that every player makes their own success.

Raymond Moore, who also referred to women as “physically and competitively attractive,” said his comments were in bad taste and heavily flawed. He backtracked on his comments, apologizing to all players and the WTA in entirety, hailing the strength and talent of women players, particularly Williams and Azarenka who played the final.

Moore clearly had no intention to leave his post despite his controversial comments. When he was asked how long he planned to remain in charge after stirring up the hornet’s nest, he said that he loved what he was doing and did not plan on leaving anytime soon. But he soon succumbed to pressure to step down from his post.

Ellison, the executive of Oracle Corp. thanked female athletes who had fought tirelessly to ensure that men and pro players were paid equal prize money, crediting Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, and Serena Williams for their leadership roles.

But Novak Djokovic, the world’s top-ranked male player, has insisted that men deserve more pay than their women counterparts, according to MSN, because the statistics show that spectators turn up more at men’s tennis matches.

Ilana Kloss, the CEO and commissioner of Mylan World Team Tennis and a past Women’s Tennis Association board member, says the “equal pay” arguments need to be left alone. She agreed that men play the best-of-five sets in Grand Slams, whereas women play the best-of-three. But she argued that in other tennis events, it is always the-best-of-three for both.

Do you believe Raymond Moore was right to resign for his statements about women’s tennis?

[Photo by Mark J. Terrill/AP, File]