Equal pay backlash forces Moore out
Indian Wells chief quits over women’s tennis row
Moore said the women’s game “rides on the coat-tails” of the men and they should “thank God for Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal”. His comments prompted an angry backlash from leading players including Serena Williams and former champions such as Billie Jean King.
He later apologised but last night the 69-year-old former professional from South Africa decided to step down. He was involved with the tournament at Indian Wells for 29 years.
Venue owner Larry Ellison said: “I fully understand his decision.” He added that there had been efforts to treat women and men in sports equally and that women and men have been paid equal prize money at all major tennis tournaments, including Indian Wells, for a decade.
In what looked like a damage limitation statement, he said: “Thanks to the leadership of Billie Jean [King], Martina Navratilova, Venus Williams, Serena Williams and so many other great women athletes, an important measure of success has already been achieved.
“All of us here at the BNP Paribas Open promise to continue working with everyone to make tennis a better sport for everybody.”
Moore had said at a press conference: “I think the WTA [Women’s Tennis Association] … you know, in my next life, when I come back, I want to be someone in the WTA because they ride on the coat-tails 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.”
He later issued an apology, saying: “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 apologise 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.”
Earlier, men’s world number one Novak Djokovic lent some support to his comments by saying men deserved higher rewards.
But Martina Navratilova said Moore’s comments were “extremely prejudiced” and said there could be a boycott by female players if Moore stayed in post.
Serena Williams, reacting to Moore’s original comments, said: “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.”
Judy Murray, former Great Britain Fed Cup captain and mother of British number one Andy Murray, said: “I think there’ll be a couple of people who probably woke up the next morning and wished they had thought a bit more about what they said before they said it.”
Commenting on threats to boycott the tournament: “I think the players love the event.”