Serena Williams, acknowledged by many to be America's best athlete, has the disadvantage of being both a woman and a person of color in a sport dominated by white males. So her wild success is all the more inspiring — and the lack of respect given to her all the more infuriating.
Following years of overcoming overt sexism and racism in the sport, Williams had to endure yet another obtuse remark made by an older white man, this time about how women in tennis don't match up to their male counterparts.
"In my next life when I come back, I want to be someone in the [Women's Tennis Association], because they ride on the coattails of the men. They don't make any decisions and they are lucky," former professional tennis player and current director of the Indian Wells tournament Raymond Moore said in a pre-match conference.
"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."
Williams, who emerged in second place at the tournament after losing to Victoria Azarenka in the finals on Sunday, had a restrained response:
Obviously, I don't think any woman should 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. So I don't think that is a very accurate statement.
"You know, there's only one way to interpret that," Williams added when asked if Moore's comments were misunderstood. "'Get on your knees,' which is offensive enough, and thank a man, which is not — we, as women, have come a long way. We shouldn't have to drop to our knees at any point."
Novak Djokovic, the current World No. 1, also had something to say about Moore's views. He asserted his "tremendous respect" for what women have achieved in the sport because they have to deal with things that men don't — like "you know, the hormones and different stuff, we don't need to go into details. Ladies know what I am talking about."