Serena Williams claps back at tournament director Raymond Moore, over comments he made stating that female tennis players “ride on the coattails of the men.” The original remarks came on the eve of Sunday, March 20, when Moore made a statement following the singles finals at the BNP Paribas Open, better known simply as Indian Wells.
“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,” Moore told reporters, referring to the Women’s Tennis Association. “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.”
Following the backlash, Moore apologized, but of course, the damage was already done. In fact, the WTA announced Monday that Moore’s comments are under review. “The WTA has no tolerance for these kind of statements, this is a breach of our Code of Conduct and the board will review accordingly,” the statement from WTA CEO Steve Simon said. “The WTA stands on its own and was founded on the principles of equality and empowerment. I am proud of all the strong athletes on the WTA who put in hard work and sacrifice every single day. Tennis as a whole is enriched by the contributions and accomplishments of every player, both female and male.”
Of course, the WTA wasn’t alone in getting on Moore’s case. His comments drew outrage from the leading player of the women’s game herself, Serena Williams. “I don’t think any woman should be down on their knees thanking anybody like that,” Williams told reporters after she fell 6-4 6-4 to Victoria Azarenka in the women’s final.
“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,” added the 21-time grand slam winner, referring to her sister, whose claimed seven majors alone. “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.”
Adding insult to injury, Williams pointed to last year’s U.S. Open, when the women’s final sold out before the men’s for the first time. Not to mention her calendar-year grand slam, which hadn’t been accomplished since 1988. “I’m sorry, did Roger play in that final?” Williams asked. “Or Rafa, or any man, play in that final that was sold out before the men’s final? I think not.”
Meanwhile, tennis great Billie Jean King, who fought tirelessly for equality in sports, tweeted her disapproval with Moore. “Disappointed in Raymond Moore comments,” the 12-time grand slam champion said. “He is wrong on so many levels. Every player, especially the top players, contribute to our success.”