Former world No. 1 Jimmy Connors has defended former Indian Wells CEO Raymond Moore after he spouted sexist comments about female tennis players.
“Ray’s my friend. He’s been my friend for 50 years,” he told TMZ Sports. “The guy makes a mistake. He says one loose thing, but look at everything he’s done on the positive side for tennis, women’s tennis, men’s tennis in general.”
He added: “Some guys make a loose statement. Let it go. Look at the positive things he’s done and move on.”
On the morning of the Indian Wells Finals, Moore told the media the female tennis players ride the coattails of their male counterparts and should get on their knees to thank them.
Runner-up Serena Williams blasted his remarks.
“You know, there’s only one way to interpret that,” she told the press. “Get on your knees, which is offensive enough, and thank a man, which is not — we, as women, have come a long way. We shouldn’t have to drop to our knees at any point.”
Moore went on to say that Serena is the best female tennis player of all time, but there are other attractive prospects. The media asked him if he meant physically or competitively.
“I mean both,” he answered. “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.”
Moore stepped down as CEO the following day.
”Earlier today I had the opportunity to speak with Raymond Moore,” stated Indian Wells owner Larry Ellison. “Ray let me know that he has decided to step down from his roles as C.E.O. and tournament director effective immediately. I fully understand his decision.”