March has not been a good month for the reputation of the tennis sport. First it was Maria Sharapova who failed a drug test at the Australian Open. Now it is the tournament director and CEO of the BNP Paribas Open, Raymond Moore, who stated on 20 March 2016, that women tennis players “should get on their knees and thank God” for male players like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the sport’s popularity.
Watch this NOS video with the original remarks by Moore and the response by Serena Williams.
Moore’s remarks caused an outrage on social media followed by worldwide media coverage. Billie Jean King, who co-founded the WTA Tour and has long been a pioneer in the women’s game, tweeted:
Disappointed in #RaymondMoore comments. He is wrong on so many levels. Every player, especially the top players, contribute to our success
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) March 20, 2016
Moore, in a statement which he issued later in the day, said: “At my morning breakfast with the media, I made comments about the WTA that were in extremely poor taste and erroneous.”
His resignation was inevitable. It was communicated and welcomed by BNP Paribas Open owner Larry Ellison one day later on 21 March, 2016.
The curtain fell very fast for this tournament director. BNP Paribas as the main company sponsor has reacted quickly by separating the company name from Raymond Moore and in doing so, minimised further reputational damage.
How could this have happened? Was Moore’s opinion about women’s tennis known to BNP Paribas? Did he receive any mediatraining at all? Was he a risk to BNP Paribas, because he acted on his own?