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Serena Williams' response to Raymond Moore's comments on women's tennis is unplayable

Goodness!

Just when you think it is the 21st century, and everyone gets it, even in the world of sport, along comes the tennis tournament director of Indian Wells, Raymond Moore. On Sunday, he gave the media his considered views that female tennis players were dead lucky to be able suck like filthy parasites on the life juices provided by noble male tennis players, because without the males playing tennis they'd be DEAD. 'Cos everyone knows that male tennis players are fabulous to watch and when women are playing on grass, you'd just as soon watch the grass grow, so make us a tea, would you, love, there's a pet?

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Well, that's not quite what he said, but it was along those lines. I think you'd better say it again, Ray, so I don't misquote you. Off you go, son ...

"In my next life when I come back I want to be someone in the Women's Tennis Association, because they ride on the coat tails of the men," Moore said. "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."

Serena slam: Indian Wells tournament director Raymond Moore with Serena Williams.
Serena slam: Indian Wells tournament director Raymond Moore with Serena Williams. Photo: AP

At this moment, Moore looked as if he had hit a cross-court zinger, an unplayable top-spin back-hand, landing in yonder far corner. Brilliant shot, what?

Actually, no.

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In fact, to his horror, he found his verbal volley had come off the top of his racquet, and was low arching up to reach its zenith just the other side of the net. And look who is charging forward to hit it, right down on his soft melon in an overhead smash like they just don't make them any more?

Oh, Gawd, it is Serena Williams! Go, Serena!

"Get on your knees, which is offensive enough, and thank a man? We shouldn't have to drop to our knees at any point," she began, as Moore copped a whack on the noggin that made the racquet come down right around his neck.

He made for the exits. But, not so fast!

"Last year," Williams continued, holding him steady for another shot, "the women's final at the US Open sold out well before the men." Whack on the noggin!

"I'm sorry, did Roger play in that final or Rafa or any man play in that final that was sold out before the men's final? I think not." Whack on the noggin!

Within hours, the shaken Moore, with Serena's racquet still around his neck, had apologised, but to no avail. Within a day, and the racquet handle now the only thing visible, he had resigned.

Despite that, there are many who quietly, and a few who not so quietly, agree with him.

One, who surprisingly put his hand up, in half-support was none other than Novak Djokovic, who, after a few diplomatic remarks about how impressive women's tennis was, noted: "I think that our men's tennis world ...  should fight for more, because the stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men's tennis matches."

Others say you wouldn't make a claim for equal pay for a male netballer what you pay a female netballer, because it is the females who drive the market, and bring the crowds in, so why do you assume parity is right for tennis?

And let's not forget the old chestnut that if women want pay parity in tennis, let them play five sets like the blokes do!

The truth?

Of course there are sports and activities where it is clear that there is a great spin-off for one gender by the fact that the other gender brings the crowds in. But of all pursuits to make this claim, tennis is surely the last one you'd choose to make a stand on, in this manner.

For starters, there are plenty of us who prefer women's tennis in the first place, when all too often the pure power game played by the men can be over in just a few seconds and be dull for its lack of nuance.

Wham, bam, thank you, ma'am 15-0.

Wham! 30-0

Wham-bam-BAM  40-0

Women's tennis seems to be a test of so much more than power, and is all the more absorbing because of this.

Secondly, Williams' point about how quickly the US Open sold out last year is incontrovertible. Women's tennis is demonstrably hugely popular and it really was like Moore's damn hide to imply that they are little-leaguers who only get to pretend to be Major-Leaguers because the males have allowed it.

But the guts of it is this: part of the very joy of tennis is its universality, that it is played by seven-year-olds, 87-year-olds and all ages in between, by men and women; Australians, Bolivians, and Chinese; Christians, Jews, Muslims and atheists; Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten, everybody! It is a cohesive whole, loved across the planet, across the board, because of that very fact. And women dinkum are half of it. Who knows how many women prefer watching men play, or men prefer watching women? The point is that most of us enjoy watching both, and are happy to pay big for both.

In the midst of that colossal success, as the riches flow, for tennis to divide itself up, turn on the other half and shake their fist that it is all so unfair, is sheer madness.

So, Novak, do us a favour? First pull your head in. Yes, I know you've apologised, but it's too late. You need the treatment. Now, just stand over there, a little, could you? On the other side of the net from Serena Williams?

Stand still. OK, Serena, the ball's in your court. Tell him!

Twitter: @Peter_Fitz

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