The head of the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament has resigned following controversial comments he made about female athletes, the tournament owner said late Monday.
Tournament director Raymond Moore said during a news conference Sunday morning that players in the Women's Tennis Association were "lucky" and that they "ride the coattails of the men."
"Earlier today I had the opportunity to speak with Raymond Moore," BNP Paribas Open owner Larry Ellison said in a statement Tuesday. "Ray let me know that he has decided to step down from his roles as CEO and Tournament Director effective immediately. I fully understand his decision."
Serena Williams and other women tennis pros, including trailblazer Billie Jean King, condemned the comments and said they were sexist.
Women's Tennis Association CEO Steve Simon called the remarks extremely disappointing and alarming.
Moore apologized Sunday in a statement. "At my morning breakfast with the media, I made comments about the WTA that were in extremely poor taste and erroneous," Moore said. "I am truly sorry for those remarks, and apologize to all the players and WTA as a whole. 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."
Ellison thanked King, Williams and her sister Venus, and Martina Navratilova and other women athletes for their leadership in fighting for equality in sports.
"I'm proud to say that it is now a decade long tradition at our tournament at Indian Wells, and all the major tennis tournaments, to pay equal prize money to both the women and the men," Ellison said in the statement.
"All of us here at the BNP Paribas Open promise to continue working with everyone to make tennis a better sport for everybody." Ellison said.