John McEnroe is still talking about Serena Williams, even though she specifically told him to take her name out of his mouth. To be fair to Johnny Mac, his NPR interview set off a firestorm and now he’s being asked about Serena almost exclusively during every interview for his book tour. It’s almost as if he planned it that way. Did he? I don’t know. I think if McEnroe was actively looking to play the sexist troll, he would be coming across as less confused?
To recap, in his interview with NPR several days back, McEnroe was asked about Serena and he praised her extensively, but he insisted on calling her “the best female player of all time” rather than “the best player of all time.” He also said that if she was on the men’s tour, she would be “ranked 700.” Which really bugs me – it’s one thing to say that one-on-one, Serena couldn’t beat Rafa Nadal or Novak Djokovic. I don’t think she could beat them either, although I would love to see that exhibition match. But it’s quite another to say that Peak Serena couldn’t beat a guy ranked #679. And why would she even need to beat #679? By literally every metric, she’s the greatest of all time. Even Roger Federer thinks so (but Serena still calls HIM the greatest). From the VF Oscar party last year:
That moment when Federer & Serena can’t agree on who is the greatest….
(📽: Serenas Snapchat) pic.twitter.com/SNoUuknGAW
— HappySlamTennis (@happyslamtennis) February 29, 2016
Anyway, I digress. McEnroe appeared on CBS This Morning on Tuesday and Gayle King, Norah O’Donnell and Charlie Rose lit into him as soon as he sat down, basically. McEnroe refused to apologize, but genuinely seemed bewildered by why his comments have become such a thing:
He says at the beginning: “She’s the greatest female player that ever lived, then the lady said to me, I don’t remember which one, but she said, ‘Why did you say woman, why don’t you just say the greatest, you know, tennis player that ever lived?’ And so then I felt the need, however unfortunately probably, to defend myself. I don’t know, just say what I really felt, which is about what I think she would be…[my comment] was not necessary. I didn’t know it would create controversy.” Then it turns into another dumb thing. As commenter Jenns wrote succintly yesterday: “What McEnroe is saying that women can never be the best because they are women. And that is f**king bullsh-t.” So, enough Johnny Mac. ENOUGH.
Photos courtesy of WENN.