Update: Raymond Moore stepped down as chief executive of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California, and as tournament director of the BNP Paribas Open on Monday, reports The New York Times. Moore’s decision was announced in a statement from Larry Ellison, who owns the tournament. "Earlier today I had the opportunity to speak with Raymond Moore,” Ellison said. “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.” The news comes just one day after Moore sparked controversy with comments about female tennis players.
This story was originally published on March 21, 2016. The number-one ranked tennis player in the world — Novak Djokovic — sparked controversy over the weekend when he questioned whether women in tennis deserve equal pay, reports the BBC. Djokovic was speaking after winning the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells on Sunday. Before the matches began, the event's CEO, Raymond Moore, said that women were riding "on the coattails of men" and, "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." Djokovic called these remarks "not politically correct." However, while praising the women for their efforts on equal pay, Djokovic said that men should "fight for more." "Obviously it's a very delicate situation," he said. "Women deserve respect and admiration for what they are doing. You know, equal prize money was the main subject of the tennis world in the last seven, eight years." He went on to say, "I applaud them for that, I honestly do. They fought for what they deserve and they got it. On the other hand I think that our men's tennis world, ATP World, should fight for more because the stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men's tennis matches." Currently, female tennis players are paid significantly less at women's-only events when compared with men's events of the same size. Comparatively, number-one male player Djokovic won $21.65 million last year, while number-one female player Serena Williams won $10.58 million, according to the BBC.
Williams weighed in on the comments from Moore, saying, "There’s only one way to interpret that. ‘Get on your knees,’ which is offensive enough, and ‘thank a man’? We, as women, have come a long way. We shouldn’t have to drop to our knees at any point.” She also expressed shock that anyone would question pay equity after the excitement surrounding last year's U.S. Open. Williams' Grand Slam bid caused tickets to the women’s final to sell out before the men’s final for the first time in tournament history, according to The New York Times. "I’m sorry, did Roger play in that final?” Williams asked. “Or Rafa, or any man, play in that final that was sold out before the men’s final? I think not.”