Tennis Identity

Update: Indian Wells CEO Moore quits over comments

[Updated 3/22: Moore has resigned over comments made Sunday morning before the finals.]

Sunday was a typically hot day today in Indian Wells for the men’s and women’s finals of the BNP Paribas Open. (Congrats to winners Azarenka and Djokovic, BTW!) After some very ill-advised comments, it’s become even hotter for their CEO. Indian Wells Tennis Garden and BNP Paribas Open CEO Ray Moore may need to do some serious resume-updating following comments this morning to the media:

Shad Powers of the Desert Sun was on hand and weighs in:

On the ESPN broadcast, commentator Patrick McEnroe said Moore should step down immediately, and Brad Gilbert supported those remarks.

“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,” Moore said, according to multiple reports. “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.”

But Moore wasn’t finished putting his Gucci loafers in his mouth.

“I think the WTA have a handful — not just one or two — but they have a handful of very attractive prospects that can assume the mantle. You know, [Garbine Muguruza], Genie Bouchard. They have a lot of very attractive players. And the standard in ladies’ tennis has improved unbelievably.”

When asked if he meant attractive as in competitive nature or as in physical appearance, he said, um, both.

“I mean both. They are physically attractive and competitively attractive. They can assume the mantle of leadership once Serena decides to stop. I think they’ve got — they really have quite a few very, very attractive players.”

It didn’t take long for the media to get this story out, and the tournament website quickly pushed out this apology from Moore.

“At my morning breakfast with the media, I made comments about the WTA that were in extremely poor taste and erroneous. 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 and Victoria, and the entire WTA. Again, I am truly sorry for my remarks.”

Today’s women’s winner Victoria Azarenka said in response:

2016 Indian Wells tourney runner-up Serena Williams, who has an an off-again on-again relationship with the event, was quick to deplore Moore’s remarks.

“Yeah, I’m still surprised, especially with me and Venus and all the other women on the tour that’s done well. Last year the women’s final at the US Open sold out well before the men. I’m sorry, did Roger play in that final or Rafa or any man play in that final that was sold out before the men’s final? I think not. So I just feel like in order to make a comment you have to have history and you have to have facts and you have to know things. You have to know of everything. I mean, you look at someone like Billie Jean King who opened so many doors for not only women’s players but women’s athletes in general. So I feel like, you know, that is such a disservice to her and every female, not only a female athlete but every woman on this planet, that has ever tried to stand up for what they believed in and being proud to be a woman.” – Serena Williams

And from our site Editor, Karin Burgess:

“It’s shocking to hear these kinds of sexists comments come from someone given such a visible position in tennis. It reinforces the old boy network that tennis has tried so hard to erase. Indian Wells should find someone new to represent such a high profile event. There are no second chances when it’s really not a matter of media training; this case sounds like a belief system that’s intrinsic and archaic.” Karin Burgess, Editor, Tennis Identity

We’ll see how quickly the WTA and especially tournament owner Larry Ellison respond to these remarks made by Moore. Even though he was quick to apologize, the damage has been done.

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