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Serena Williams Claps Backs at Sexist Comments by CEO Who Says Women Tennis Players Ride Men’s Coattails

Serena Williams, left, jokes around behind Victoria Azarenka, of Belarus, after Azarenka defeated Williams in a final at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament, Sunday, March 20, 2016, in Indian Wells, Calif. Azarenka won 6-4, 6-4. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Serena Williams, left, jokes around behind Victoria Azarenka, of Belarus, after Azarenka defeated Williams in a final at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament, Sunday, March 20, 2016, in Indian Wells, Calif. Azarenka won 6-4, 6-4. AP Photo by Mark J. Terrill

Indian Wells CEO Raymond Moore made sexist comments aimed at Serena Williams and other women tennis players after Williams lost her match at the California-based tennis tournament this past Sunday.

The world’s No.1- ranked female tennis player responded in the most epic way possible, reminding him who is really boss.

“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 organization that runs the women’s game. “They don’t make any decisions and they are lucky.”

Moore added, “If I was a lady player, I would go down on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were born. They have carried the sport …”

His comments reveal the racist and sexist overtones the sport has had to deal with over the years. Nearly 15 years

Raymond Moore, right, is a former professional player from South Africa who took over as CEO of Indian Wells Tennis Garden in 2012, after being associated with the event for decades. By Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Raymond Moore, right, is a former professional player from South Africa who took over as CEO of Indian Wells Tennis Garden in 2012, after being associated with the event for decades. By Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

ago, Williams and her sister Venus faced racist fans and hecklers who did not believe the two should be at the prestigious tournament. As a result, the sisters boycotted the event. Serena ended the boycott by playing in this year’s tournament. Venus announced in an essay in the Players’ Tribune this year that she would also play.

Moore’s comments took tennis back to the sexist and racist dark ages. It also reinforces why the Williams sisters boycotted in the first place. As the tournament director of one of the sport’s most prestigious events, his comments promote exclusion and sexism in a sport that struggles with inclusion and diversity.

Serena Williams replied to the sexist comments with an epic comeback:

“Obviously, I don’t think any woman should be down on their knees thanking anybody like that,” she 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.”

“Well, if you read the transcript, you can only interpret it one way. I speak very good English. I’m sure he does too,” she said. “You know, there’s only one way to interpret that. Get on your knees, which is offensive enough, and thank a man, which is not — we, as women, have come a long way. We shouldn’t have to drop to our knees at any point.”

Williams responded to Moore with class even though he did not deserve any. Users on Twitter came to Serena’s aid:

Moore and many Williams’ critics fail to see that Serena and Venus Williams have attracted a large number of African-American tennis fans. The two powerhouses have introduced a new crop of fans and prospective tennis players in a sport that has never truly reached out to the Black community. The Williams sisters may be one of the reasons Black people have gravitated toward the sport.

According to ESPN, Moore apologized for his comments in a written statement:

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

Moore’s comments sparked a new debate about the value of women in the Tennis world. In response, the No. 1 men’s player in the world, Novak Djokovic, said:

“Women deserve respect and admiration for what they are doing. You know, equal prize money was the main subject of the tennis world in the last seven, eight years. I have been through that process as well so I understand how much power and energy WTA and all the advocates for equal prize money have invested in order to reach that.”

“On the other hand I think that our men’s tennis world, ATP world, should fight for more because the stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men’s tennis matches. I think that’s one of the reasons why maybe we should get awarded more. Women should fight for what they think they deserve and we should fight for what we think we deserve.”

“I have great admiration and respect for them to be able to fight on such a high level. Many of them have to sacrifice for certain periods of time, the family time or decisions that they make on their own bodies in order to play tennis and play professional sport.”

“I have had a woman that was my coach and that was a huge part of my tennis career. I’m surrounded by women. I’m very happy to be married with one and to have a child. I’m completely for women power.”

Women athletes have historically been paid less, gotten fewer endorsement deals, and have faced extreme sexism. Djokovic refers to a prize increase in 2007, when Wimbledon announced for the first time that it would provide equal prize purses to male and female athletes. All four Grand Slam events now offer equal prize money to the champions.

According to data collected by the Women’s Sports Foundation, “a WNBA player in the 2015 season, the minimum salary was $38,913, the maximum salary was $109,500, and the team salary cap in 2012 was $878,000. For NBA players in the 2015-2016 season, the minimum salary is $525,093, the maximum salary is $16.407 million, and the team salary cap is an all-time high of $70 million.”

Until the exposure in media is equal, the money will not be.

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