On NPR Monday, retired tennis champion John McEnroe lauded Serena Williams as “the best female player ever”—but not the best tennis player.
“If she played the men’s circuit, she’d be like 700th in the world,” McEnroe said.
“That doesn’t mean I don’t think Serena is an incredible player. I do… 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,” McEnroe remarked.
“But if she had to just play the circuit—the men’s circuit—that would be an entirely different story.”
This isn’t the first time McEnroe has gotten in trouble for his views of female tennis players. In 2010, he argued that the Women’s Tennis Association should be scaled back because female tennis players are not physically or mentally as strong as men.
“They shouldn’t be playing as many events as the men,” he told CBS Sports then. “The women have it better in tennis than in any other sport, thanks to Billie Jean King. But you shouldn’t push them to play more than they’re capable of.”
Serena Williams is the only tennis player in history of either sex to have won singles titles at least six times in three out of four Grand Slam tournaments. Last year, she said, “If I were a man, I would have 100 percent been considered the greatest ever a long time ago.”
The superstar athlete, who is expecting her first child later this year with fiancé and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, was not impressed with McEnroe’s claim—and was quick to let him know.
Sorry, Serena ain’t sorry.