Raymond Moore, the tournament director and chief executive officer of the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament, has stepped down from those positions in the aftermath of his controversial comments about female players. The move was announced late Monday night in a three-paragraph statement from the tournament’s owner, Larry Ellison.
Moore made the comments at a Sunday morning session with reporters — he said women players “ride on the coattails of the men” — and the fallout was swift and sharp, including strong reaction from No. 1-ranked Serena Williams and tennis legend Billie Jean King.
"Earlier today I had the opportunity to speak with Raymond Moore," said Ellison in the statement. "Ray let me know that he has decided to step down from his roles as CEO and tournament director effective immediately. I fully understand his decision.
"Nearly half a century ago, Billie Jean King began her historic campaign for the equal treatment of women in tennis. What followed is an ongoing, multi-generational, progressive movement to treat women and men in sports equally."
During his Sunday session with reporters, Moore said, “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. 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.”
Moore apologized for the comments later in the day, but that did little or nothing to stem the negative reaction.
On Monday, the men's ATP Tour weighed in on the controversy with a statement in which Chris Kermode, the tour's executive chairman and president, characterized Moore's comments about female players as “disparaging and made in poor taste.”
"Ray Moore’s comment towards women’s tennis were disparaging and made in poor taste, as Ray has subsequently acknowledged. The ATP fully supports equality across society, while at the same time acknowledging that we operate in the sports and entertainment business.
"The ATP seeks to achieve fair compensation for its players by setting minimum prize money levels for ATP events in accordance with the revenues that are generated from men’s professional tennis. The ATP also respects the right of tournaments to make their own decisions relating to prize money for women’s tennis, which is run as a separate tour."