On Sunday John McEnroe sat down with NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro and created controversy in classic McEnroe fashion.
The issue started when John called Serena Williams the “best female player ever.” Garcia-Navarro pressed him that some people don’t qualify that statement based on gender. McEnroe responded that “if she was in, if she played the men’s circuit she’d be like 700 in the world.” He continued, “That doesn’t mean I don’t think Serena is an incredible player. I do, but the reality of what would happen would be I think something that perhaps it’d be a little higher, perhaps it’d be a little lower. And on a given day, Serena could beat some players. I believe because she’s so incredibly strong mentally that she could overcome some situations where players would choke ’cause she’s been in it so many times, so many situations at Wimbledon, The U.S. Open, etc. But if she had to just play the circuit — the men’s circuit — that would be an entirely different story.”
The leftist media has of course complained about this as sexist, and played Williams as the victim. She tweeted in response to his comments “Dear John, I adore and respect you but please keep me out of your statements that are not factually based.
Now to be fair to Williams, McEnroe’s statement that she’d rank 700 are difficult to test without her playing on the men’s tour. However, Garcia-Navarro’s claim that she may be the best player of any gender are quite farfetched.
In 2013, Andy Murray had joked on Twitter about playing against Williams. She later told David Letterman “If I were to play Andy Murray I would lose 6-0, 6-0 in 5 to 6 minutes, maybe 10 minutes.” She added “The men are a lot faster, and they serve harder, they hit harder.”
This doesn’t seem like a difficult concept, and in fact is the reason most sports are separate for men and women. Men are just biologically stronger and faster.
That’s not to take away any much deserved respect from Serena Williams. She has dominated her field as well or better than anyone else in the world, in any sport. However, there is no reason for Williams to pretend she’s been victimized by McEnroe’s comments. If she truly disagrees then she should challenge the men.