Indian Wells CEO Raymond Moore has stepped down from his role after coming under pressure from legendary female tennis players Monday. Moore, also the tournament director of the BNP Paribas Open, made a sexist remark that the women should thank the male tennis players for bringing attention to the game.
Tennis veterans like Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King as well as reigning women's tennis queen Serena Williams criticised the comments from the sexagenarian. Moore, a former tennis player, said that WTA rides on "the coat-tails" of the men's game.
"When I come back in my next life I want to be someone in the WTA because they ride on the coattails of the men," Moore was quoted as saying by the Guardian Sunday. "They don't make any decisions and they are lucky. They are very, very lucky."
Although he later apologised for his "erroneous" remarks, the damage was already done as he attracted the wrath of the superstars in women's tennis.
While Williams asserted that the comments from Moore were "very inaccurate", King tweeted she was very "disappointed" with the comments. Navratilova explained that the comments were "extremely prejudiced", while Chris Evert mentioned that the female tennis players have "fought harder" than their male counterparts.
Larry Ellison, owner of the BNP Paribas Open, revealed Monday night that Moore has decided to step down from his position with immediate effect.
"Earlier today I had the opportunity to speak with Raymond Moore," Ellison mentioned in a statement. "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," Ellison added.