Serena, BJK respond to Moore's comments; tournament director apologizes

by: Jonathan Scott March 20, 2016

The world No. 1 didn't hold back when asked about the ​69-year-old's remarks. (AP)

Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka supplied tennis fans with a thoroughly entertaining 6-4, 6-4 final at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells on Sunday. Vika ultimately snatched her fourth career championship-round victory over Serena, the most of any WTA tour player. She also improved her fairly dismal mark against the tour's No. 1 star to 4-17. 

This morning in the SoCal desert, though, tournament CEO Raymond Moore made some fairly disparaging statements about the WTA.

"You know, 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,” he said. “They don't make any decisions and they are lucky ... If I was a lady player, I'd go down on my knees every night and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport. They really have." 

It only got more problematic from there, with Moore extrapolating that the WTA has a number of "attractive" players making moves to the top, including Garbine Muguruza and Eugenie Bouchard. Asked whether he meant that they are attractive physically or as competitors, he clarified: both.

Serena, either apprised of Moore's comments before her post-final press conference or having discovered them herself via social media, took a grand opportunity once again to assert herself as the WTA's best spokesperson. Terming Moore's remarks "very, very, very inaccurate," Serena truly put him in his place over the ill-advised statements.

"Obviously, I don't think that any woman should be down on their knees thanking anybody like that,” she said.

Asked if she's surprised that, in 2016, women—and female athletes specifically—receive such criticism, Serena went further. 

"Yeah, I'm still surprised, especially with me and Venus and all the other women on the tour that's done well," she said. "Last year the women's final at the U.S. Open sold out well before the men. I'm sorry, did Roger play in that final, or Rafa? Or [did] any man play in that final that was sold out before the men's final? I think not."

Serena continued: "So I just feel like, in order to make a comment, you have to have history, and you have to have facts, and you have to know things. You have to know everything. I mean, you look at someone like Billie Jean King, who opened so many doors for not only women's players, but women's athletes in general.

"So I feel like, you know, that is such a disservice to her and every female; not only a female athlete, but every woman on this planet that has ever tried to stand up for what they believed in, and just being proud to be a woman."

Soon after the trophy presentation for the women's final in Indian Wells, the BNP Paribas Open released a new statement from Moore. Therein, he apologized for his earlier comments, which surely detracted from Azarenka's achievement, Serena's return to the Indian Wells final for the first time since 2001 and the impending men's final featuring Novak Djokovic and Milos Raonic. (That men's match, ironically, was a complete dud, with Djokovic winning, 6-2, 6-0, over an injured foe.)

"At my morning breakfast with the media, I made comments about the WTA that were in extremely poor taste and erroneous," Moore's statement read. "We had a women's final today that reflects the strength of the players, especially Serena and Victoria, and the entire WTA. Again, I am truly sorry for my remarks."

Reactions on social media were swift and merciless among tennis fans, observers and players. Sergiy Stakhovsky—a perennially outspoken ATP tour player—chimed in:

ESPN's Patrick McEnroe had harsh words for Moore and his future status in the sport:

And leave it to Serena to make a perfect "no shade" comment:

As the biblical saying goes, the tongue is a rudder, steering the entire ship of a person's character. In that light, Moore's ship certainly sank a few depths on Sunday.

Follow Jon on Twitter @jonscott9 

More Stories

Kuznetsova one win away from Kremlin Cup title—and spot in WTA Finals

The top-seeded Russian edged Elina Svitolina in three sets.

WATCH: Simona Halep’s practice session at WTA Finals Singapore

A behind-the-scenes perspective of the Romanian’s hit before the season-ending event.

WATCH: 2016 WTA Finals Singapore Draw Ceremony

The tour’s elite eight will be divided into two round-robin groups.