McEn­roe’s bizarre claim

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

LON­DON: As one of the great­est ever tennis play­ers, Ser­ena Wil­liams has worked hard to win the ad­mi­ra­tion of ath­letes around the world.

So when John McEn­roe dis­missed her as un­likely to rank higher than 700th in the men’s game, she wasn’t about to roll over and agree.

The 23-time Grand Slam cham­pion – who is heav­ily preg­nant – smashed back on Twit­ter, say­ing his com­ments weren’t based on fact and ask­ing him to show some re­spect.

Three-times Wim­ble­don cham­pion McEn­roe, 58, trig­gered the sex­ism row in a ra­dio in­ter­view.

He said Wil­liams –who has won Wim­ble­don seven times – was the “best fe­male player ever, no ques­tion”.

But he then added: “If she had to just play the men’s cir­cuit – that would be a dif­fer­ent story. If she played the men’s cir­cuit she’d be, like, 700.

“That doesn’t mean I don’t think Ser­ena is an in­cred­i­ble player, and I sup­pose any­thing’s pos­si­ble; maybe at some point a women’s player can be bet­ter than any­body.”

Wil­liams, 35, an­nounced in April that she is ex­pect­ing her first child with Alexis Oha­nian, co-founder of the so­cial me­dia site, Red­dit. This month she posed naked for the cover of Van­ity Fair.

She re­sponded to McEn­roe, tweet­ing: “Dear John, I adore and re­spect you, but please keep me out of your state­ments that are not fac­tu­ally based. I’ve never played any­one ranked ‘there’ nor do I have time. Re­spect me and my pri­vacy as I’m try­ing to have a baby. Good day, sir.”

McEn­roe re­fused to apol­o­gise. He told CBS: “I’ve got a so­lu­tion… The men and women play to­gether. And then we don’t have to guess.”

Rus­sian Dmitry Tur­sunov, the male player ranked 701 in the world, added to the row when he said he could beat her. Wil­liams pre­vi­ously said she would prob­a­bly lose to Andy Mur­ray in about 10 min­utes or less.

“Bat­tle of the sexes tennis matches have taken place be­fore. In 1973, former world num­ber one Bobby Riggs boasted he could beat any top woman player at the age of 55. He beat the then top fe­male player Aus­tralian Mar­garet Court, but later lost to Bil­lie Jean King. – Daily Mail

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