Tuesday, March 22, 2016 6:55 am
Tournament director of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, Raymond Moore, has resigned.
His resignation followed a tide of outrage for his comments belittling women’s tennis.
High-profile figures in women’s tennis including Martina Navratilova, Virginia Wade and Serena Williams had expressed their anger at Moore’s sentiments.
Nine-time Wimbledon champion Navratilova went further in her condemnation, including a call for women to boycott the prestigious event if 69-year-old Moore remain in charge.
But a statement released on Monday night from tournament owner Larry Ellison announced that Moore was quitting as tournament director and chief executive officer.
The statement from Ellison read: ‘Earlier today I had the opportunity to speak with Raymond Moore. Ray let me know that he has decided to step down from his roles as CEO and Tournament Director effective immediately. I fully understand his decision.
‘Nearly half a century ago, Billie Jean King began her historic campaign for the equal treatment of women in tennis. What followed is an ongoing, multi-generational, progressive movement to treat women and men in sports equally.
‘Thanks to the leadership of Billie Jean, Martina Navratilova, Venus Williams, Serena Williams and so many other great women athletes, an important measure of success has already been achieved. I’m proud to say that it is now a decade long tradition at our tournament at Indian Wells, and all the major tennis tournaments, to pay equal prize money to both the women and the men.
‘I would like to personally thank all the great women athletes who fought so hard for so many years in the pursuit of equal prize money in professional tennis. And I’d like to congratulate them on their success. All of us here at the BNP Paribas Open promise to continue working with everyone to make tennis a better sport for everybody.’
Among the terms Moore used were that ‘lady players’ should ‘get down on their knees’ and give thanks for Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
Wade, Britain’s last female Wimbledon champion, described Moore’s remarks as ‘gratuitous and unthought out’.
Moore also described the WTA Tour as a ‘very, very lucky organisation’ that rode ‘on the coat tails’ of the men. For good measure he made sexist references to the physical attractiveness of some women players. A swift apology did not suffice.
Williams was also furious, describing Moore’s remarks as ‘very, very inaccurate’.
The world No 1 said that it was a disservice to ‘every woman on this planet who has ever tried to stand up for what they believed in and being proud to be a woman’.
Williams added: ‘We as women have come a long way. And we shouldn’t have to drop to our knees at any point.’