Given the current political climate, we’re not shocked that an authority figure just said something exceedingly crude, rude and ignorant.
And given the history of Indian Wells Tennis Garden, it’s no surprise that the authority figure in question is the venue’s CEO.
The year is 2016 but too many of us are stuck in a time warp, longing for a return to the bygone era when open hostility to women and minorities were the norm. When public indignation was reserved for the moments those groups forgot their place, not when powers-that-be insisted they stay there.
Sunday’s comments from Raymond Moore make you wonder how he rose to lead Indian Wells, site of the world’s third-largest tennis stadium.
They make you wonder how a leader could have such disparaging thoughts toward half the human race. They make you wonder how many others keep their mouths shut while harboring the same opinion.
The situation would be bad enough if Moore were CEO of a Fortune 500 company unaffiliated with tennis. But it’s multiplied given the fact his venue hosts one of the biggest stops for the Women’s Tennis Association.
“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 told reporters Sunday morning. “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 spewed his nonsense hours before Serena Williams played Victoria Azarenka in the women’s final. Williams ended a 13-year boycott of Indian Wells only last year, when she returned for the first time since ugly treatment she received there as a 19-year-old. She wrote that “the undercurrent of racism was painful, confusing and unfair,” making her feel “unwelcome, alone and afraid.”
We know what has happened since that crowd displayed disgraceful behavior.
Williams is one of the sport’s biggest stars, an all-time great irrespective of gender. If anyone paved her way, it’s players such as Billie Jean King, Althea Gibson, Martina Navratilova and Chris Everett. Williams certainly hasn’t been “carried” by anyone, least of all Federer or Nadal.
In post-match comments after losing to Azarenka, Williams said Moore’s remarks “are very much mistaken and very, very, very inaccurate.” And she’s disappointed that sexist thoughts still exist despite the overwhelming success of women players such as herself.
“Last year the women’s final at the U.S. Open sold out well before the men,” she said. “I’m sorry, did Roger play in that final or Rafa or any man play in that final that was sold out before the men’s final? I think not.”
As evidence that some stupidity has no end, Moore didn’t stop with suggesting that women get on their knees. He dove deeper into the abyss of backwardness when asked about the lack of competition at the top. His response showed he has one eye on the court and the other eye … on something else.
“I think the WTA have a handful – not just one or two – but they have a handful of very attractive prospects that can assume the mantle,” he said. “You know, (Garbine) Muguruza, Genie Bouchard. They have a lot of very attractive players. And the standard in ladies’ tennis has improved unbelievably.”
A reporter who didn’t know how to take that reply asked if Moore meant physically attractive or competitively attractive.
“No, no, no, I don’t – I mean both,” he said. “They are physically attractive and competitively attractive. They can assume the mantle of leadership once Serena decides to stop. I think they’ve got – they really have quite a few very, very attractive players.”
He probably prefers uniforms more in line with volleyball, taking his cue from disgraced FIFA president Sepp Blather, who in 2004 said women soccer players should wear “tighter shorts.”
We should be further along 12 years after Blather’s babble. But we’ve clearly advanced in one area, the art of the apology (though some decry it as political correctness making us soft and weak).
“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.”
What he uttered was bad. The thought process that birthed the words is worse.
As usual in these cases, stinking thinking is the real problem. Moore is just guilty of expressing it.