It took Serena Williams 15 years to return to the BNP Paribas Open after she was booed in 2001. She might never return again. While discussing how money is awarded in men's versus women's tennis on Sunday, tournament director Raymond Moore said female players "ride the coattails of the men. They don't make any decisions and they are lucky," per the Guardian. "If I was a lady player, I would go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they've carried this sport," he added, per NBC News. "There's only one way to interpret that. 'Get on your knees,' which is offensive enough, and thank a man," responded Williams, who was defeated in the final match in Indian Wells, Calif. "That is such a disservice to … every woman on this planet that has ever tried to stand up for what they believe in."
A "disappointed" Billie Jean King soon tweeted that Moore was "wrong on so many levels. Every player, especially the top players, contribute to our success." The CEO of the Women's Tennis Association added the comments were "extremely disappointing and alarming." Moore apparently agreed in hindsight. The comments were "in extremely poor taste and erroneous," he said in a statement later Sunday. "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 [Azarenka], and the entire WTA." Novak Djokovic, commenting on the controversy, said female players "fought for what they deserve and they got it," but he added male players should perhaps be awarded more money because "we have much more spectators on the men's tennis matches."