Update: Tennis legend John McEnroe has declined to apologise for his controversial remarks to NPR regarding Serena Williams' abilities as a tennis player. When asked by CBS This Morning co-host Nora O'Donnell earlier today whether he'd like to apologise, McEnroe simply said, "No."
He bolstered his opinion by saying, "I respect Serena very much...she’s the greatest player, female player, that’s ever lived."
Emphasis on female.
In an interview this week with NPR, tennis legend John McEnroe shared several soundbites worthy of being picked over. For starters, he dished about how the iconic Andy Warhol screwed up his sex life, and how his wife, singer Patty Smyth, once put him in his place after he assumed he could be a guitarist in her band. Though the most controversial bit of his interview came when he commented about fellow living tennis legend, Serena Williams.
When the interviewer asked his thoughts about whether Williams was the best “tennis player” in the world, McEnroe felt Williams’ performance was the best of the women. “If she played the men's circuit she'd be like 700 in the world,” he said about Williams.
He continued, explaining to NPR that he felt Williams was an “incredible player” and how, “[O]n 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."
Today, Williams responded, "Dear John, I adore and respect you but please 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," she tweeted.
Whatever your thoughts on both tennis and the division of men and women in sport, you have to admit the comment, "700th place" is, well, shady considering Williams' many accomplishments. Not to mention, this is also coming from an individual who thought he could retire and just pick up a guitar and join his wife's band.
Though it does make you ask, perhaps it's time to have men and women on the same court?