The CEO of a professional tennis tournament is under fire after he made controversial comments Sunday morning about women’s tennis.
Raymond Moore, a 69-year-old native of South Africa who played professional tennis from 1968 to 1983, said the Women’s Tennis Association and its players “ride the coattails 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 added, according to a transcript of the comments tweeted by the New York Times’ Ben Rothenberg.
Moore also said the tour has some “very attractive players,” and when questioned about it, said “they are physically attractive and competitvely attractive. … I think they’ve got – they really have quite a few very, very attractive players.”
The comments were made during a morning breakfast with media members at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Moore is the CEO of the California tennis center, which is hosting the BNP Paribas Open Tournament for both the men’s and women’s tours.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Moore Apologized for the Comments in a Statement Saying He Is ‘Truly Sorry’
Ray Moore apologized for his comments in a statement issued Sunday afternoon.
“At my morning breakfast with the media, I made comments about the WTA that were in extremely poor taste and erroneous,” Moore said. “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 (Williams) and Victoria (Azarenka), and the entire WTA. Again, I am truly sorry for my remarks.”
You can read the transcripts of the comments below, via the New York Times’ Ben Rothenberg:
2. Serena Williams Blasted Him After the Tournament Final & Patrick McEnroe Called for His Resignation
After Serena Williams lost in the tournament final to Azarenka on Sunday, she blasted Moore’s comments during her press conference.
“Obviously I don’t think any woman should be down on their knees thanking anybody like that,” Williams said. “I think there is a lot of women out there who are more — are very exciting to watch. I think there are a lot of men out there who are exciting to watch. I think it definitely goes both ways. I think those remarks are very much mistaken and very, very, very inaccurate.”
She was also asked if the comments could be misinterpreted “If you read the transcript you can only interpret it one way. I speak very good English. I’m sure he does too. … Get on your knees, which is offensive enough, and thank a man … we as women, have come a long way. We shouldn’t haave to drop to our knees at any point.”
Rothenberg tweeted transcripts of her comments:
During a pre-match preview before the men’s final on ESPN, commentator and former pro Patrick McEnroe called on Moore to resign.
McEnroe added that he is “absolutely livid” about the comments. His broadcast partner, Brad Gilbert, said he agreed.
Billie Jean King tweeted about the comments:
3. He Has Been the CEO of Indian Wells Since 2012 & Has Been Involved in the Event for More Than 25 Years
Ray Moore became the CEO of Indian Wells in 2012, according to an Associated Press story from when his new role was announced.
According to the AP report, Moore had been previously involved in the tournament for 25 years as a former owner and managing partner. In his role as CEO, he reports to Larry Ellison, the CEO and co-founder of Oracle Corp., which owns the tournament and the venue.
Despite the outrage on Sunday, he was on the court for the title ceremony after the men’s final:
4. Moore Won 8 Doubles Titles & Played in 12 Davis Cups for South Africa During His Pro Career
Moore, who was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, played professionally from 1968 to 1983, according to his profile on the ATP website.
During his career, Moore won eight doubles titles and was a runner-up 12 times. He also played in the Davis Cup for South Africa 12 times from 1967 to 1977, winning the tournament with his team in 1974. He had a 260-298 career record in doubles and a 282-318 record in singles, including two titles. His highest ranking was No. 34 in August 1976.
5. The Williams Sisters Boycotted Indian Wells for 14 Years Amid Claims of Racism
Serena Williams returned to the Indian Wells tournament for the first time in 14 years last year, according to CNN. She and her sister, Venus Williams, boycotted the tournament after an incident in 2001.
According to CNN, Serena Williams was booed during the tournament final against Belgian Kim Clijsters. The booing came a day after Venus Williams withdrew from the semifinal against her sister with a knee injury just minutes before the match.
Richard Williams, the sisters’ father and coach, and Venus Williams, were also booed while sitting in the stands. Richard Williams alter claimed the booing was racially motivated and the n-word was directed toward him and his daughter.