World number one Serena Williams ripped “offensive” remarks by Indian Wells tournament director Raymond Moore, who claimed women’s tennis was riding on the coattails of the men’s game.
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, a 69-year-old former player from South Africa told reporters at his annual state of the tournament press conference on Sunday morning.
Not surprisingly, 21-time Grand Slam champion Williams was scathing in her response.
“Obviously, I don’t think any woman should be down on their knees thanking anybody like that,” Williams said.
“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,” Williams said.
“So I don’t think that is a very accurate statement. I think there is a lot of women out there who 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.”
Williams said she quickly became aware of Moore’s remarks on social media, even though she was busy Sunday morning preparing to meet Victoria Azarenka in the women’s final which the Belarusian won in straight sets.
A swift backlash had Moore issuing an apology even before the men’s Masters final between Novak Djokovic and Milos Raonic was completed.
“At my morning breakfast with the media, I made comments about the WTA that were in extremely poor taste and erroneous,” Moore said in a statement.
“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.”
But Williams said there was no mistaking their meaning.