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Head of Pro Tennis Tournament Resigns Over Comments

FILE - In this March 20, 2016, file photo, tournament director Raymond Moore gestures while speaking at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, Calif

The director of the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament has resigned over apparent sexist remarks comparing the men and women's professional tennis circuits.

Raymond Moore made the remarks Sunday on the final day of the prestigious tournament in Indian Wells, California. He told reporters the women’s tour rides "on the coattails of the men," and referred to female players as "physically attractive and competitively attractive."

Moore also remarked that if he were a female player he "would go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport."

Serena Williams, the world's top-ranked female player, led the firestorm of criticism against Moore's comments, calling them "offensive" and saying women "shouldn't have to drop to our knees at any point."

Moore later apologized, calling the comments "in extremely poor taste and erroneous."

Billionaire software developer Larry Ellison, the tournament's owner, announced Moore's resignation in a statement Monday night.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic, the world's top-ranked male player, also stirred controversy Sunday when he said male players should earn more money than female players.

Shortly after winning the BNP Paribas Open Djokovic said men “should fight for more,” adding that prize money should be “fairly distributed” and based on “who attracts more attention, spectators and who sells more tickets.”

But Ellison defended the efforts of such players as Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams and her sister, Venus, for ensuring equal prize money in pro tennis. He pledged the tournament would "continue working with everyone to make tennis a better sport for everyone."

For the four major tournaments, the Australian Open, U.S. Open, French Open and Wimbledon, there has been equal prize money for men and women since 2007. The same is true of combined Masters tournaments like the Paribas Open."

However, in women-only events, women make less than their male counterparts at all-male events.