According to Raymond Moore, women “are lucky” and building on Moore’s sentiments, Novak Djokovic believes men “should fight more” for the pay he thinks men “deserve.” Both statements not only belittle the female experience, but also minimize the progression of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and women striving for change within the realm of sports.
Moore, until resigning on Monday evening, was the tournament director of the BNP Paribas Open (also known as the Indian Wells Masters). This isn’t the first time the Indian Wells tourney has been plagued with scandal. In 2001, Serena Williams endured racial slurs and cacophonous booing after her father Richard was accused of deciding matches between her and her older sister Venus. For 14 years, the Williams sisters had taken a boycott against the California tournament until the younger Williams reentered in 2015.
When approached by the press on Sunday, Moore addressed questions about the state of the WTA. The South African former professional tennis player sneeringly chuckled and wished that in a future life he would return to the game as a woman within the WTA. He explained that his reasoning was due to his ideology that women “ride on coattails of the men” and that women “don’t make any decisions” and, in turn, are “lucky” because of this.
Let me get one thing straight–women, especially within the sport of tennis, haven’t steered clear of making decisions for themselves and for the social advancement of game, and are far from “lucky” human beings.
It seems as if Moore, who never won a grand slam in his professional career, has forgotten about the extreme service women within the WTA have paid to their cause and profession. For starters, women’s sports juggernaut Billie Jean King was the martyr to establish the WTA in the first place, enduring tremendous sexism, and it should be known that the complex home to the U.S. Open is not named after anyone within the Association for Tennis Professional (ATP), but is rightfully named in King’s honor. Also, let us not downplay one of Venus William’s most glorious accomplishments within the WTA. It was in 2005 when Williams marched into the boardroom at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club a day before the Wimbledon final to Larry Scott and the entire grand slam committee. Williams asserted how the unequal pay yielded thoughts similar to being deemed “almost as good” when compared to her male counterparts within the sport.
What I find most interesting is that a majority of the media has paid attention to the latter half of Moore’s misogynistic remarks. Moore explained that if he were a woman within the WTA, he would have felt completely obligated to “go down every night on [his] knees” and be grateful for the male heavyweights in the sport (i.e. “Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal”) because apparently “they have carried this sport.” This couldn’t be more bogus as, in the past few years, not only has the Women’s U.S. Open sold out before the men’s, but the finals in 2013 and 2014 earned higher television ratings than the men’s finals. And, when asking the general American public who isn’t very knowledgeable of the sphere of tennis, most can recognize the name Serena Williams, who has established herself as a phenomenon for not only women, but for the entire sport of professional tennis.
Djokovic, the current number-one-ranked men’s tennis player in the world, apparently believes that men should be “awarded more” and should have the ability without any sort of stigma “to fight for what [they] think [they] deserve.” He seemed to assert that women have fought, but men should have that ubiquitous opportunity as well. What Djokovic doesn’t comprehend is that men have almost never had to “fight” for equal pay. The current number-one treats the notion of being a revolutionary like to a delicacy rather than a necessity. His discussion regarding women’s biology and our “hormones and different stuff” wasn’t just uncalled for—it reinforced how the our patriarchal society is filled with unaware misogynists.
We need to acknowledge what is wrong with saying that women “are lucky” because, honestly, the female species has never been. Both of these men within the domain of tennis have been too blindsided to discern their own privilege as men. Males throughout history have maintained and exercised their dominance, and calling women the “lucky ones” completely disregards this concept.
Although Moore has resigned and Djokovic has apologized for his patronizing comments, Billie Jean King’s statement from 2014 still stands: “Sports are a microcosm of society.”