“Earlier today I had the opportunity to speak with Raymond Moore,” said BNP Paribas Open owner, Larry Ellison, 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.”
Moore’s resignation follows a wave of controversy stemming from remarks the tournament chief made during a press conference on Sunday.
Speaking to reporters at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California during the prestigious tournament, Moore said the Women’s Tennis Association “ride[s] on the coattails of the men.”
“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,” he added.
Moore apologized for his comments soon after, but it was already too late. Tennis superstar Serena Williams and WTA pioneer Billie Jean King publicly condemned Moore’s remarks as both sexist and inaccurate.
“Last year, the women’s final at the U.S. Open sold out well before the men,“ Williams told reporters during a press conference following her loss to Victoria Azarenka in the women’s finals. “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.”
Williams added, “We, as women, have come a long way. We shouldn’t have to drop to our knees at any point.”
Tennis pro Novak Djokovic also joined the fray.
According to a report by The Guardian, Djokovic said he does admire women for fighting successfully for equal pay, but that men “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.”
Djokovic went on to say that women face challenges including “hormones” — an issue he said men don’t have to deal with.
“Their bodies are much different to men’s bodies,” he said. “They have to go through a lot of different things that we don’t have to go through. You know, the hormones and different stuff, we don’t need to go into details.”