UPDATE June 27, 9:46 a.m. EST: Serena Williams fired back at John McEnroe on Twitter.
Dear John, I adore and respect you but please please keep me out of your statements that are not factually based.— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) June 26, 2017
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— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) June 26, 2017
ORIGINAL STORY: Retired tennis star John McEnroe said that while he believes Serena Williams is the greatest female tennis player ever, she would rank "like 700 in the world" if she played on the men's circuit.
NPR host Lulu Garcia-Navarro asked McEnroe about his thoughts on Williams during an interview to discuss McEnroe's new book.
"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," McEnroe said.
"But if she had to just play the men’s circuit, that would be an entirely different story."
Williams, who has won 23 Grand Slam titles, made a similar argument about the difference between men's and women's tennis when asked about playing against Andy Murray during a 2013 appearance on "Late Night With David Letterman."
"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."
The NPR host tweeted about the interview.
Shouldn't you look at exceptional performance and wins? It's not a battle of the sexes (2/2)— Lulu Garcia-Navarro (@lourdesgnavarro) June 25, 2017
Predictably, McEnroe's comments sparked discussion.
If u want an objective answer, then sex isn't an issue. Who's the best player? Would she beat Federer or nadal? No. sex doesn't matter.— Marco VB (@dtt71) June 25, 2017
Sexist Much, Ms.Navarro? "Women can never be best"??? Explain these scores to me then: Billie Jean King ---6,6,6 - Bobby Riggs ---4,3,3— Florida Squeezed (@FLSqueezed) June 25, 2017