Despite Serena Williams being hailed as the world’s best female tennis player, John McEnroe asserts she wouldn’t fare so well if she were pitted against men.
Speaking about his new memoir, But Seriously, with National Public Radio’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro on Sunday, the 58-year-old retired top-ranked singles player disrupted the notion that Williams can be considered the best player in the world.
Addressing Williams’ 23 Grand Slam singles titles, including her nearly-two-months pregnant 2017 Australian Open win, the Chicago Tribune reports Garcia-Navarro stated, “Some would say, she’s the best player in the world… You know, why say female?”
McEnroe reportedly responded, “Well because if she was in, if she played the men’s circuit she’d be like 700 in the world.” He clarified, “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.”
After McEnroe’s disparaging comments began making headlines, Williams took to Twitter to offer her response. “Dear John,” she wrote, “I adore and respect you but please keep me out of your statements that are not factually based.” She added, “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.”
While later appearing on “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday, McEnroe revealed that given the chance, he probably wouldn’t apologize for his controversial remarks about Williams.
McEnroe previously challenged Williams’ tennis skills during an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” back in 2015, where the tennis star claimed he could beat Williams in a friendly tennis match, despite his age. Watch the video below.
Williams is currently expecting her first child with her fiance, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who proposed to the tennis star back in December 2016. Williams announced her pregnancy in April 2017 with an accidental baby-bump photo shared to Snapchat.