The CEO of the prestigious BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California, has come under fire from several top athletes after saying that women have their male colleagues to thank for “carrying” the game.
“They ride on the coattails of the men,” said Raymond Moore, CEO of the tournament and a former tennis player himself. “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.”
Novak Djokovic then threw wood on the sexist fire by suggesting that, while women deserve respect and admiration, men should probably be earning more prize money because they bring in more spectators. The number-one male player added: “I have tremendous respect for what women in global sport are doing and achieving. Their bodies are much different to men’s bodies. They have to go through a lot of different things that we don’t have to go through. You know, the hormones and different stuff, we don’t need to go into details.”
After strong criticism from several of women’s tennis top players, Moore eventually apologized for his remarks.
“If I could tell you every day how many people say they don’t watch tennis unless they’re watching myself or my sister — I couldn’t even bring up that number,” 21-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams said after her defeat against Victoria Azarenka in the Indian Wells final on Sunday. “Last year the women’s final at the U.S. Open sold out well before the men. I’m sorry, did Roger play in that final or Rafa or any man play in a final that was sold out before the men’s final? I think not. 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.”