Raymond Moore, 69-year-old CEO of Indian Wells and tournament director and chief executive officer of the BNP Paribas Open, resigned from his position on March 21 after having made a controversial statement about women’s tennis.
During morning breakfast with the media on March 20, Moore said that “lady players” were lucky to be “riding on the coattails of men…They don’t make any decisions; they are lucky. They are very very lucky,” Moore said.
That was not the end of his comments. Right before the BNP Paribas Open Championship games were about to begin, Moore nonchalantly said, “If I was a lady player, I would go down on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport.”
The next day Moore retracted his statements after receiving strong criticism by current players and tennis champions.
Billie Jean King, a pioneer of women’ tennis who campaigned for women’s equality called Moore’s comments “wrong on so many levels.”
Serena Williams even said Moore’s statements were “very inaccurate.”
Junior women’s tennis player Natalie Johnson couldn’t agree with King and Williams more.
“I’m trying to understand [Moore’s] viewpoints…men’s tennis and women’s tennis have always been separate. They are not competing against each other,” Johnson said.
Johnson states that women tennis players have been her role models from a young age.
“As far as my game, I look to Roger Federer for his strokes, I like his forehand and I try to emulate that, [but] he wasn’t necessarily the person who inspired me growing up,” Johnson said.
Instead, it was Steffi Graf and Serena Williams who Johnson looked up to. These women made her believe that she could compete in tennis. Watching them succeed made Johnson believe that she could be great.
When asked by a reporter to clarify if Moore meant that the WTA has a lot of attractive prospects who are competitvely attractive or physically attractive, Moore said, “No, I mean both.”
“When Moore talks about how attractive women are, it’s very interesting that he emphasizes that they are physically attractive,” senior women’s tennis player Lesley Yeom said.
Yeom attributed Moore’s viewpoint to a superficial understanding of women’s tennis, or in other words, he looks at the physical appearance of the players rather than the effort that they put into the sport.
Men’s tennis champion Novak Djokovic joined the conversation when asked to comment on Moore’s statement.
He did not exactly agree with Moore but instead said, “Prize money at combined events should be distributed on the basis of ticket sales and TV viewing figures,” according the BBC news.
Historically men’s matches get more attention then women’s, which explains why Djokovic believes men should be paid more.
However, last year, the Women’s 2015 U.S Open final sold out before the men’s for the first time. Times are changing, and women’s tennis is being noticed just as much as men’s.
Djokovic later clarified his statements.
“We all have to fight for what we deserve. This was never meant to be made into a fight between genders and difference in pay, but in the way all players are rewarded for their play and effort,” Djokovic said.
Prize money should be equal for men and women. A win is a victory and deserves to be treated as such.
Gender discrimination in the sports world is no new issue. In fact, in early April 2016, the Women’s U.S. National Soccer team announced its lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for wage discrimination.
Despite the women’s team winning the World Cup and generating almost $20 million more in revenue last year than men’s soccer, they were paid about a quarter of what the men’s team earned.
Is a lawsuit something that is on the horizon for the tennis world?
It is not because of men that women are successful in tennis or any other sport. It is because other women have continuously fought for their right to play the sport. Women have fought for their right to to be treated as equals and to receive equal treatment. And they will continue to do so.
Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Maria Sharapova, Steffi Graf, Serena and Venus Williams among many other female tennis players paved the way for women in tennis like Johnson and Yeom at Azusa Pacific University. Men do not deserve the sole attribution.