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Tennis Executive Resigns After Apologizing For Comments About 'Lady Players'

Serena Williams stands with then-tournament director Raymond Moore on Sunday after Victoria Azarenka defeated Williams in a final at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament.
Mark J. Terrill
Serena Williams stands with then-tournament director Raymond Moore on Sunday after Victoria Azarenka defeated Williams in a final at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament.

After apologizing for his series of remarks about female tennis players, Raymond Moore, CEO of the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., has resigned.

"Earlier today I had the opportunity to speak with Raymond Moore," BNP Paribas Open owner Larry Ellison said in a 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."

As we reported Monday, Moore's comments about female tennis players sparked outrage. He 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."

Moore, 69, who was speaking at a news conference Sunday, continued:

"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've carried this sport. They really have. And now the mantle has been handed over to [Novak] Djokovic and [Andy] Murray, and some others."

The tennis executive from South Africa, who has been associated with the Indian Wells tournament for decades, also drew criticism for saying there are several "very attractive players" in the women's game who could lead their sport the way Serena Williams has. When asked whether he was referring to their physical appearance or their game, he answered, "I mean both."

While tennis players and pundits have widely condemned Moore's comments, a debate about equal pay for men and women has resurfaced in the wake of his remarks.

Men's world. No. 1 Novak Djokovic advocated that prize money from joint men's and women's tournaments be distributed based on ticket sales and TV ratings. The Serbian player admitted it was a "very delicate situation" and was "completely for women power," according to the BBC, but he said both men and women's games should "fight for what they think they deserve."

Serena Williams, responding to Moore's comments, 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."

In fact, as Williams pointed out, tickets for the 2015 U.S. Open women's final sold out before tickets to the men's final.

Another factor in the discussion about equal pay for men's and women's tennis is that men play best-of-five sets in grand slam matches while women play best-of-three sets. In all non-grand-slam matches, men and women play three sets. In 2007, Wimbledon became the last grand slam tournament to offer equal prize money. So all four major tennis tournaments as well as other events such as Indian Wells and the Miami Open pay the same to men and women.

Referring to the grand slams, current world No. 2 Andy Murray told The New York Times in 2013, "I think the women should play best-of-five sets. I don't see why they couldn't do it. It would mean the days in the Slams are a little bit longer.

"And maybe it doesn't have to be from the first rounds. I think either the men go three sets or the women go five sets. I think that's more what the guys tend to complain about, rather than the equal prize money itself," he said.

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