John McEnroe Says Serena Williams Would Be Ranked 700th on Men’s Tennis Circuit

Serena Williams New Zealand ASB Tennis
Serena Williams at the New Zealand ASB Classic in January 2017.
AP Images

John McEnroe has found himself in some hot water after recent comments he made about Serena Williams.

The former tennis star was always known for his fiery on-court behavior and outbursts, so this is far from the first time he’s in the middle of a controversy. During an appearance on NPR’s “Weekend Edition on Sunday,” McEnroe was asked about Williams by host Lulu Garcia-Navarro.

“Best female player ever — no question,” McEnroe said.

“Some wouldn’t qualify it; some would say she’s the best player in the world. Why qualify it?” Garcia-Navarro said.

“If she played the men’s circuit she’d be like 700 in the world,” McEnroe said. “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.”

Four years ago during an appearance on “Late Show With David Letterman,” Williams talked about the idea of playing a top male player.

“For me, men’s tennis and women’s tennis are completely, almost, two separate sports,” Williams said. “If I were to play Andy Murray, I would lose 6-0, 6-0 in five to six minutes, maybe 10 minutes. No, it’s true. It’s a completely different sport. The men are a lot faster and they serve harder, they hit harder, it’s just a different game. I love to play women’s tennis. I only want to play girls, because I don’t want to be embarrassed.”

At age 35, Williams, a Nike-sponsored athlete, has 23 Grand Slam titles. She’s currently out of tennis as she prepares to welcome her first child with fiancé Alexis Ohanian. It seems the former No. 1-ranked player intends to return to tennis after the birth of her child. In an Instagram post in April, she wrote in a message to her future child that she “can’t wait for you to join the players box next year.”

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