Serena Williams Fires Back at Indian Wells CEO Saying Women ‘Ride on the Coattails of Men’

Serena Williams said, "I think there is a lot of women out there who are very exciting to watch"

Indian Wells runner-up Serena Williams blasted Raymond Moore, the tournament’s CEO and director, after he said female tennis players ride the coattails of their male counterparts and should get on their knees to thank them.

“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.”

Early Sunday morning, Moore told the media he wants to return in the next life as “someone in the WTA because they ride on the coattails of men.”

“They don’t make any decisions and they are lucky,” he continued. “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.”

He 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.”

Serena also said many people have told her that they only watch tennis if she or her sister Venus are playing.

As ESPN analyst Pam Shriver pointed out, Moore’s remarks are ironic “on a day we should have been celebrating Serena getting back to a final and all the forgiveness and recovery made after all that happened 15 years ago.”

Serena and Venus had boycotted Indian Wells since 2001. Venus had defaulted to her due to tendonitis. She claims she told the tournament hours in advance, but the officials did not call the match until a few minutes before its scheduled start time. People booed and jeered, which carried over to the finals when Serena played against Kim Clijsters. Officials did not tell the audience to quiet down when they cheered every time Serena committed a mistake. Her father Richard Williams claimed spectators spewed racist comments towards him.

She returned last year after she penned an op-ed in Time about forgiveness and the ability to move on.

Serena also pointed out that the U.S. Open women’s final sold out immediately last year. Everyone expected Serena to win the last Grand Slam to complete a Calendar Grand Slam. However, she fell in the semi-finals to unseeded Roberta Vinci.