- The Washington Times - Monday, March 21, 2016

Tennis champion Serena Williams on Sunday dismissed comments from a tournament official who said female athletes should count their lucky stars that men are around to carry the sport.

Indian Wells CEO Raymond Moore drew wide scorn when he said the Women’s Tennis Association rides on the “coattails of men.”

“I think the WTA … You know, in my next life, when I come back, I want to be someone in the WTA, because they ride on the coattails of men,” Mr. Moore said prior to the BNP Paribas Open finals at his California tennis club. “They don’t make any decisions, and they are lucky. 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.”

Mr. Moore also said the WTA has a lot of “attractive” prospects who can help make the game more popular. Asked to clarify whether he was talking about physically or athletically attractive players, he responded, “I mean both. They are physically attractive and competitively attractive.”

After falling in the finals at Indian Wells 6-3, 6-4 to Belarusian player Victoria Azarenka, Ms. Williams said women should not be “down on their knees thanking anybody like that.”

“I think Venus [Williams], myself, a number of players — if I could tell you every day how many people say they don’t watch tennis unless they’re watching myself or my sister — I couldn’t even bring up that number,” she said, referring to her sister and fellow tennis champion.

“So I don’t think that is a very accurate statement,” she said. “I think there are a lot of women out there who are very exciting to watch. I think there are a lot of men out there who are exciting to watch. I think it definitely goes both ways.”

The 21-time Grand Slam champion also pointed to last year’s U.S. Open, when the women’s final sold out before the men’s.

“I’m sorry, did Roger play in that final?” she said. “Or Rafa, or any man, play in that final that was sold out before the men’s final? I think not.”

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