In the wake of a scandal that saw him make sexist comments regarding the Women’s Tennis Association, Raymond Moore is reportedly out as the CEO of Indian Wells.
Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times noted Moore stepped down from his positions of tournament director and CEO in the aftermath of the remarks he made Sunday.
Rothenberg also shared BNP Paribas Open owner Larry Ellison's response to the news of Moore’s departure. Ellison pointed to Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova and the Williams sisters, thanking female athletes in the process:
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.
The ATP offered a response and quickly denounced that line of thinking, per Tom Perrotta of the Wall Street Journal:
King—who was not only an excellent tennis player but also part of the fight against sexism in the sport when she beat Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” in 1973—offered her response to Moore’s remarks on Twitter:
Williams lost to Azarenka on Sunday, 6-4, 6-4, but she also took the time to address Moore's comments in the aftermath, per Ravi Ubha and Matias Grez of CNN:
I don't think any woman should be down on their knees thanking anybody like that.
I think Venus, myself, a number of players -- 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.
So I don't think that is a very accurate statement. I think there are a lot of women out there who 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.
On the men’s side, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic beat Milos Raonic in straight sets, 6-2, 6-0, for his third consecutive title at Indian Wells and fifth overall. However, he didn't shine when asked about Moore, as Rothenberg pointed out:
Rothenberg also passed along Djokovic’s comments in full:
There is plenty to unpack in Moore’s asinine take, even outside the sexist and offensive nature of it. Steven Ruiz of USA Today looked at the business side as well and wondered how Moore planned on selling the tournament at Indian Wells if he “alienated half of the population and, really, anyone who is turned off by such ridiculously insensitive comments.”
Ruiz suggested Moore's comments are a good way to get people and fans to boycott Indian Wells rather than coming to the tournament in the future.
Moore’s comments also ignored the fact that Williams is arguably the biggest star in either the ATP or the WTA. She has an incredible 21 Grand Slam titles on her resume and captured the attention of the nation last year as she attempted to win all four majors in the same calendar year. She won Wimbledon, the French Open and the Australian Open but fell just short at the U.S. Open with a semifinal loss.
Williams was Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year for her efforts and is an instantly recognizable figure who dominates her sport and stars in plenty of commercials without riding on any male coattails.
Interestingly, this wasn't the first controversy at Indian Wells. In 2015, Williams returned to the tournament for the first time after a 13-year boycott, as Chris Chase of USA Today described.
Williams was set to face her sister, Venus, in the 2001 semifinals, but Venus withdrew after suffering an injury. That was after Elena Dementieva said the sisters’ father, Richard, decided the matches in advance when the two of them played. The crowd then booed Serena throughout her final match against Kim Clijsters, and Richard Williams said racist comments were directed toward him as well.
As for Moore, ESPN.com noted he is a 69-year-old former professional tennis player. He took over the position of CEO at Indian Wells in 2012 before stepping down Monday.