March 21, 2016:Â BNP Paribas Open chief executive and tournament director Raymond Moore provoked outrage on Sunday with controversial comments he made before the womenâ€™s and menâ€™s finals at Indian Wells, and later issued an official apology.
The 69-year-old South African had earlier told reporters that top-level womenâ€™s players rode â€œon the coattails of the menâ€, did not make any decisions and were â€œvery, very luckyâ€ to have equal prize money, sparking a firestorm on social media.
Moore also singled out Canadaâ€™s Eugenie Bouchard and Spaniard Garbine Muguruza as being among the â€œvery attractive prospectsâ€ on the WTA circuit tour, before explaining that they were â€œphysically attractive and competitively attractiveâ€.
In a statement which he issued later in the day, Moore said: â€œAt my morning breakfast with the media, I made comments about the WTA that were in extremely poor taste and erroneous.
â€œI am truly sorry for those remarks, and apologise to all the players and WTA as a whole.
â€œWe had a womenâ€™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.â€
Moore, a former ATP Tour player who won eight doubles titles during the 1970s and early 1980s, issued his apology after former world number one Victoria Azarenka had beaten an error-prone Serena Williams 6-4 6-4 in the womenâ€™s final.
Williams, when asked in her post-match news conference about Mooreâ€™s initial comments, replied: â€œThose remarks are very much mistaken and very, very, very inaccurate.â€
Moore landed himself in hot water when he said during his annual breakfast with media covering the Indian Wells event: â€œYou 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.
â€œThey donâ€™t make any decisions and they are lucky. They are very, very lucky. If I was a lady player, Iâ€™d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport.â€
Moore went on to say that Muguruza and Bouchard were among a â€œhandful of very attractive prospectsâ€ who could take up the mantle in the womenâ€™s game.
When asked what he meant by attractive, he replied: â€œThey are physically attractive and competitively attractive. They can assume the mantle of leadership once Serena decides to stop.â€
Billie Jean King, who co-founded the WTA Tour and has long been a pioneer in the womenâ€™s game, tweeted: â€œDisappointed in #RaymondMoore comments. He is wrong on so many levels. Every player, especially the top players, contribute to our success.â€
Fellow American Chris Evert, an 18-time grand slam champion, tweeted: â€œNow is the Golden Era 4 men, no doubt, but women have worked, fought harder, and have been bigger draws many times”