David Rosenthal, CBS Los Angeles
(Opinions expressed are solely my own and not that of CBS)
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The CEO of Indian Wells and BNP Paribas tournament director Raymond Moore is rightfully under fire on Sunday after he made some offensive and insulting comments about women’s tennis.
Take a look at these grotesque comments Moore made in an interview:
“You know, in my next life when I come back I want to be someone in the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association),” he said, with a laugh, ” because they ride on the coattails of the men. 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.”
OK, Raymond. I don’t even know where to begin.
The misogynistic undertones of these comments are just too much to handle.
But wait, it gets worse!
In a follow up question, when asked who will take over the reigns of women’s tennis when Serena Williams retires, Moore uttered this pathetic response.
” 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, Muguruza, Genie Bouchard. They have a lot of very attractive players. And the standard in ladies tennis has improved unbelievably,” Moore said.
The interviewer was kind enough to ask Moore to clarify what he meant by “attractive”, but even with the second chance to explain himself, Moore just kept digging himself into a deeper hole.
“No, no, no, I don’t — 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,” he added.
As if his first slew of comments weren’t bad enough, the best adjective he can find for describing women’s tennis player is attractive!
It is so demeaning to female athletes of any sport that one of the first things people often comment about is their appearance, not their ability to play the sport.
WNBA player Elena Della Donne made news recently for calling out the sports world for too often focusing on female athlete’s physical appearance rather than their skill.
‘I just can’t wait for the day where people want to talk about your skills on the court and not your looks. I wonder how many times a Tom Brady is asked about how handsome he is, or a J.J. Watt,'” Della Donne said.
Women’s tennis has seen such greats like Steffi Graf, Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Serena and Venus Williams, Martina Hingis, Billie Jean King, and so many more, and for Raymond Moore to make comments like these is not only an insult to the game of tennis, but an insult to women across the world.
Luckily, Serena Williams responded in typical Serena fashion.
When asked about the comments after her match, Williams responded with this:
“Obviously I don’t think any woman should be down on their knees thanking anybody like that,” Williams said. “I think Venus, 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.”
What an incredibly classy response from Williams — who could have blasted Moore with an array of insults and no one would have blamed her.
Oh, but Serena wasn’t done — she kept listing the facts and realities of the sport, rather than make absurd, outdated, and archaic claims (I’m looking at you, Raymond).
“”Yeah, I’m still surprised, especially with me and Venus and all the other women on the tour that’s done well,” she said. “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,” Williams said.
Game, Set, Match, Williams.
I mean the woman has won 21 Grand Slams and earned over $75 million in her career as a professional tennis player, and whatever you may think of her, you cannot argue her response is dead-on.
Moore reluctantly issued an apology for his comments after the internet went wild, saying his comments were in “extremely poor taste and erroneous.”
He even tried to salvage his credibility by claiming it was his “attempt at humor,” saying it was just a “lame joke,” and that “men should also be on their knees for Fed (Roger Federer) and Rafa (Rafa Nadal).”
“I am truly sorry for my remarks,” he added.
Mr. Moore, please just quit while you are very, very, very behind.
Billie Jean King took to Twitter to express her disapproval with Moore.
Disappointed in #RaymondMoore comments. He is wrong on so many levels. Every player, especially the top players, contribute to our success
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) March 20, 2016
Hey, Raymond, do you remember when Billie Jean won the Battle of the Sexes against Bobby Riggs in 1973?
55-year old Riggs claimed he could beat any women’s tennis player, only to get absolutely destroyed by King.
Nothing Moore says can fix what he said, so I might have to side with Patrick McEnroe on this one.
This is 2016, and there is no place for sexist and completely inacccurate and bigoted discrimination towards women.
While the men’s tour does indeed warrant more popularity statistically , that does not mean the Women’s tour isn’t pulling its own weight.
Since 2005, the WTA has nearly doubled its revenue, and has seen an increase in yearly revenue every year except one.
Yes, the mens tour brings in more money and fans than the womens tour, but let’s look at the circumstances.
The men’s tour has Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal, while the women’s tour in comparison, has only Serena.
When younger, dominant players start to arise in the sport, we should see the two sports becoming more and more equal in terms of fans and revenue.
Look back when Serena and Venus Williams both started, the disparity in support and revenue between the two sports was not nearly as high as it is today.
Here’s the bottom line: both the men’s and women’s tours are extremely successful, and not only thriving, but growing every year.
Moore’s comments just illuminate the ignorance that some people have when analyzing women’s sports, and that is truly a shame.
Yes, the men’s tour makes more money, but since when is sports ALL ABOUT MONEY?
I myself have enjoyed watching Serena and Venus Williams absolutely dominate the competition in the exact same way Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal have.
To me, there is literally no difference in the two sports, other than certain advertising companies injecting their money into one tour, and not the other.
Don’t be surprised when the next Serena Williams comes along and the WTA surpasses the ATP in revenue, which is all the bigwigs like Moore seem to care about.