The tennis tournament director who came under fire for his comments about the women's game and its players has resigned. Raymond Moore's statements have been condemned by many, including the world's top female player.
Larry Ellison, owner of the BNP Paribas Open, announced in a statement posted on the tournament's website late on Monday that Moore had stepped down.
"Earlier today I had the opportunity to speak with Raymond Moore. 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," Ellison said.
"Nearly half a century ago, Billie Jean King began her historic campaign for the equal treatment of women in tennis... 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."
Moore's resignation came just a day after controversial statements he made at a press conference prior to the women's and men's finals at this year's tournament at Indian Wells. The 69-year-old South African, a former tennis player himself, told reporters that the top-level women's players were riding "on the coattails of the men" and were "very, very lucky" to earn equal prize money.
Federer, Nadal 'carrying the sport'
"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," Moore said.
He also singled out Canada's Eugenie Bouchard and Spain's Garbine Muguruza as being among the "physically attractive and competitively attractive" women's players.The statements were condemned by many
, including the world's No.1-ranked women's player, Serena Williams. A few hours after making the comments, Moore apologized for them.
Ellison reaffirmed his commitment to equal pay for male and female tennis players as part of his statement.
"I would like to personally thank all the great women athletes who fought so hard for so many years in the pursuit of equal prize money in professional tennis. And I'd like to congratulate them on their success," Ellison said.