At his morning breakfast with media contingent at Indian Wells, a man by the name of Raymond Moore — the CEO of the tournament which is essentially the fifth-biggest in the sport — made a series of extremely sexist and highly disturbing remarks about the WTA and women’s tennis.
“No, I think the WTA — you know 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. 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 Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport,” Moore said.
Of course, Moore quickly apologized and step backed from his comments. This was only after they rapidly spread through Twitter and Chris Fowler, Patrick McEnroe and Brad Gilbert addressed the comments on their ESPN broadcast — with McEnroe explicitly calling for Moore to step down from his role as the CEO of the tournament.
“At my morning breakfast with the media, I made comments about the WTA that were in extremely poor taste and erroneous. 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 said in a statement merely hours after his words went viral.
Well, I say: what a liar.
Moore wants us to believe that he is displaying genuine remorse for what he said. Unfortunately, the sexist views that he has clearly harbored over the course of many years is not something one gets over the course of a single afternoon. It’s not as if Moore was wrong about a single fact about women’s tennis, or was misrepresenting the character of a single WTA player in a short remark.
These were generalized feelings about the WTA and women’s tennis that Moore was very comfortable expressing to a worldwide media contingent, indicating that this is something he has thought long and hard about and something that he feels very strongly about.
He is not sorry and don’t believe for one second that he is. The only reason an apology was made was because if one was not made, it would bring further disgrace upon this situation, not because Moore is actually sorry. Deep down inside, Moore still holds these same feelings he confidently verbalized just this morning.
The most disheartening aspect of Moore’s comments is that he credits Federer and Nadal for propelling the women’s game. The WTA was founded in 1973 by Billie Jean King and since that point, King and many other women have fought to provide women with an equal footing in the sport. One of the biggest accomplishments of this movement came in 2007, when Wimbledon became the last Grand Slam to offer equal prize money for women. This didn’t come about by a snap of the fingers. It wasn’t magic. As with any type of advancement movement in society, it takes effort and dedication to overcome the resistance of people like Raymond Moore.
For Moore to to assert that it is Federer and Nadal who are carrying women’s tennis is not only the opposite of the truth, it is a complete rewriting of the truth and history and is beyond insulting and degrading to the legendary effort pioneered by King. It’s not Federer nor is it Nadal who are propelling women’s tennis — it is the women themselves. It is the women who fought for the WTA to be founded, the women who fought for equal prize money and the women who have dedicated their careers to tennis.
Many people (myself included) love the WTA and love women’s tennis for what it is. Williams and Maria Sharapova are two of the wealthiest female athletes in the world. It’s not an accident and it’s certainly not the doing of Federer and Nadal, something both of those men would surely attest to. No fan attended the WTA final in Indian Wells contested by Williams and Victoria Azarenka because they were thinking about what Federer and Nadal have done for the sport. The notion is absurd.
In a world where women are still treated unequally, unfairly — and in many cases — not like human beings but objects, comments like the ones Raymond Moore made on such a prominent stage from such a prominent position must be denounced and Moore must be punished, either through voluntary resignation or termination. Indian Wells is sending an absolutely horrible message if they allow Moore to remain as the tournament CEO and I would go as far as to call for a WTA boycott of the event next year — if Moore is still there.