Serena Williams
Serena Williams is angry about Indian Wells CEO Raymond Moore's comments that female tennis players have been riding on men's coattails.Reuters

A furious Serena Williams blasted stunning comments by Indian Wells' CEO who said female players should "go down on their knees" to thank God for male players because they "ride on the coattails of the men."

CEO Raymond Moore made the comment to reporters at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California before the tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open. He expressed his attitude about female athletes when asked his opinion of the Women's Tennis Association, CBS Sports reported.

"In my next life when I come back I want to be someone in the WTA, because they ride on the coattails 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," he said.

After Serena lost 6-4, 6-4 loss to Victoria Azarenka in the final, she took on Moore, angrily telling the press: "Obviously, I don't think any woman should be down on their knees thanking anybody like that.

"I could tell you every day how many people say they don't watch tennis unless they're watching myself or my sister." She added: "There's only one way to interpret that. Get on your knees, which is offensive enough, and thank a man ... we, as women, have come a long way. We shouldn't have to drop to our knees at any point.

"Look at someone like Billie Jean King who opened so many doors for not only women's players but women athletes in general. So I feel like that is such a disservice to her and every female, not only a female athlete, but every woman on this planet that has ever tried to stand up for what they believed in and being proud to be a woman."

Moore did say "Serena and Maria" Sharapova "are superstars. In the world they are two of the best female athletes, no question." He went on to say that there were some contenders in the wings who could one day replace a star like Williams, then noted that the WTA also has a "lot of attractive players."

Moore finally coughed up an apology later in the day, saying in a statement: "At my morning breakfast with the media, I made comments about the WTA that were in extremely poor taste and erroneous. I am truly sorry for those remarks, and apologise to all the players and the WTA as a whole.

"We had a women's final today that reflects the strength of the players, especially Serena and Victoria, and the entire WTA. Again, I am truly sorry for my remarks."