McEnroe’s bizarre claim
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