By Conor Hawkins
The CEO of the Indian Wells tennis tournament has resigned after making sexist comments about women in the sport.
Raymond Moore said in a press conference that “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.”
Moore then went on to say that women’s tennis should utilise its “physically and competitively attractive” players to assume the mantle of women’s tennis once Serena Williams retires.
These comments were met with strong words from superstar Williams. “I don’t understand why I always have to answer questions about controversy like this. Obviously I don’t think any woman should be down on their knees thanking anybody like that.”
“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.”
— Andrew Jerell Jones (@sluggahjells) March 20, 2016
After winning the men’s title at Indian Wells, men’s world number one Novak Djokovic was asked about Moore’s comments, and found himself getting involved in the controversy when he claimed that male players deserved to be paid more.
“Women deserve respect and admiration for what they are doing. Equal prize money was the main subject of the tennis world in the last seven, eight years … I applaud them for that, I honestly do. They fought for what they deserve and they got it. On the other hand I think that men’s tennis should fight for more because the stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men’s tennis matches.”
Tennis is seen as one of the front runners in the sporting world when it comes to gender equality. Both male and female competitors receive equal prize money and TV exposure across the world at huge tournaments such as Wimbledon and the US Open.
But these latest comments from high profile figures in the game indicate there is still work to be done to ensure all tennis players are viewed equally.