Serena Williams
Serena Williams took offence to the comments made by Indian Wells CEO Raymond MooreReuters

The likes of Serena Williams, Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Bill Jean King might have turned women's tennis, and continue to do so, into a real force, but yet there remain sceptics and people who believe the WTA is just a wee bit of an appetiser to the main course that is men's tennis.

When it comes from people outside the sport, it is a little easier to swallow, but when it comes from someone who is at the helm of one of the biggest non-Grand Slam tournaments of the year, it becomes a little more difficult to go down.

The CEO of Indian Wells Tennis Garden, which hosts the ATP-WTA combined tournament, created controversy by saying that women's tennis is "very, very lucky," as they continue to ride on the "coattails of men's tennis."

"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," said Raymond Moore, the CEO, was quoted as saying by The Guardian. "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."

Moore then predictably went the "women players are attractive" way, calling the likes of Garbine Muguruza and Eugenie Bouchard "attractive prospects."

"They are physically and competitively attractive," Moore added. "They can assume the mantle leadership once Serena decides to stop. I think they've got ... they really have quite a few very, very attractive players."

Serena, after her defeat to Victoria Azarenka in the final of Indian Wells, was asked to give her opinion on Moore's comments and the American did not hold back.

"Obviously I don't think any woman should be down on their knees thanking anybody like that," Serena said. "I think Venus (Williams), myself, a number of players have been – 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 is a lot of women out there who are more – 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. I think those remarks are very much mistaken and very, very, very inaccurate."

Serena has had to answer questions of such ilk many times before, but the world number one women's tennis player admitted she was surprised at the comments made by Moore.

"Yeah, I'm still surprised, especially with me and Venus and all the other women on the tour who have done well," Serena added. "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 players but women 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."

Moore would later go on to apologise for his comments, no doubt, after seeing the backlash. "At my morning breakfast with the media, I made comments about the WTA that were in extremely poor taste and erroneous," Moore said. "I am truly sorry for those remarks, and apologize to all the players and WTA as a whole.

"We had a women's final that reflects the strength of the players, especially Serena and Victoria, and the entire WTA. Again, I am truly sorry for my remarks."

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