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BNP Paribas Open: CEO Steps Down over comments on women

Photo: Raymond Moore, right, is a former professional player from South Africa who took over as CEO of Indian Wells Tennis Garden in 2012, poses with Djokovic [middle]

The just ended BNP Paribas Open tournament at Indian Wells might be over but it seems the smoke is yet to vanish.

Following his comments about comments on women’s tennis, chief of the tournament, Ray Moore has called it quits subsequent to a barrage of attacks, especially from the women folk.

The tournament management broke the news of Raymond Moore stepping down as CEO and tournament director of the BNP Paribas Open on Monday.

Moore provoked outrage a day earlier when he said top-level women’s players rode “on the coattails of the men” and were “very, very lucky” to have equal prize money. 

The tennis world reacted strongly as world number one Serena Williams and all-time great Martina Navratilova rebuffed the statements and the ATP men’s tour formally denounced them. 

Navratilova had actually gone as far as to bring up the suggestion that Moore should quit or risk a tournament boycott.

 She termed his comments which made front page of many newspapers around the world “extremely prejudiced and very old-fashioned statements”.

World women numero uno Serena William also slammed the Indian Wells CEO for telling women to ‘get down on their knees’.

And the 69-year-old – who is a former Wimbledon quarter-finalist and Davis Cup champion – clearly decided that it would be best all round for him to leave his post. 

Tournament owner Larry Ellison revealed the departure with a statement that both announced Moore’s resignation and championed the sport’s efforts toward equality. 

“Ray let me know that he has decided to step down from his role as CEO and Tournament Director effective immediately. 

“I fully understand his decision,” Ellison said, before going on to speak more generally about the women’s game. 

“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.

“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.”

Among his comments, the 69-year-old South African also highlighted Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard and Spaniard Garbine Muguruza as being among the “very attractive prospects” on the WTA circuit.

He went on to explain that they were “physically attractive and competitively attractive”. 

“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,” he said.

When reaction to his remarks flooded in, the former ATP Tour player quickly offered an apology but the damage had already been done.

Moore had only taken over as tournament director late last year when Steve Simon resigned to become chief executive of the WTA Tour. 

“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,” Ellison added. 

“All of us here at the BNP Paribas Open promise to continue working with everyone to make tennis a better sport for everybody.” 

World men’s number one Novak Djokovic had also thrown up ‘equal pay debate’ challenging the fairness of equal payment for men and women competitors.

Djokovic had argued that men payers generate more spectatorship and more revenue, hence shore up more pay.

It could be recalled that both Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka, the title winners, all got $1 Million in prize money at the championship.


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