Serena Williams has heard worse. That’s what came through loud and clear in the great champion’s response to ill-conceived comments by Indian Wells tennis director Raymond Moore. Moore is apparently under the impression that women’s tennis gets a free ride on the back of men’s tennis — and that without men, the women’s game would be flailing. On top of this strange notion, Moore decided to express his ideas in language that sounds antediluvian (and offensive): “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.”
But even hearing those inflammatory words, Williams didn’t rise to the bait. She stood firm, but didn’t blow it up as she had every right to, instead giving a simple tell-it-like-it-is response: “I don’t think any woman should be down on their knees thanking anybody like that,” she said. Williams contradicted Moore by relating how people tell her all the time that they never watch tennis unless it’s Williams or her sister Venus playing — it’s the sisters they want to see. (And TV ratings bear it out — especially as Serena went on her epic run toward a Grand Slam last year.) Williams, utterly composed, didn’t take shots at the men either. She just said, “I don’t think that is a very accurate statement. 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.” Next question, please.