Today's dose of misogynist commentary that nobody asked for comes from a 58-year-old retired tennis player looking to promote his second memoir. John McEnroe, the tennis legend, made a sexist comment about Serena Williams, implying that while she was great and all, she'd never stack up to the men. Of Course, Williams managed to shut him down perfectly, and with a lot more grace than he was able to muster.
During an interview with the retired tennis champ, NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro dug into some of McEnroe's written material that he's featured in his book But Seriously. McEnroe affirmed that Serena Williams is the "best female player ever — no question," but was sure to stop there. Treading lightly, Garcia-Navarro asked, "Some wouldn't qualify it, some would say she's the best player in the world. Why qualify it?"
"Well," he mansplained, "because if she was in, if she played the men's circuit she'd be, like, 700 in the world." Pretty confident fact-checking from a guy who has no raw data on the topic, huh? "If she had to just play the circuit — the men's circuit," McEnroe insisted, "that would be an entirely different story."
Even before he tried calling her out, people have recommended that McEnroe challenge Williams on the court for real. "I didn't really want to do it, personally," he backpedaled to NPR. "I think I can still play and I think I could still — I mean my kids don't think I can beat her anymore," he wavered.
"Maybe I should get her now because she's pregnant," he classlessly suggested, while stressing, "Obviously, if I was going to do something like that, I would train very seriously for that to make sure my body was at, like, the peak it could be."
Serious training aside, does McEnroe really think he can take on a competing legend? Williams' tennis titles outrank everyone by a long shot, and she's been dubbed the best tennis player ever multiple times over. McEnroe's baseless commentary translates as incendiary remarks that, odds are, will likely never be challenged in a real world setting.
Williams clapped back on Twitter in a series of two, short, get-my-name-outta-your-mouth moments:
Good day indeed. Williams has commented on the differences between men's and women's tennis in the past, calling them "completely, almost, two separate sports" on an episode of Late Night with David Letterman four years ago. "The men are a lot faster and they serve harder, they hit harder, it's just a different game," she explained. Separate sport or not, dubbing a top-ranking athlete an uninformed 700 in the world for a division she's never competed in makes McEnroe as petty as they come.
Many are noting that this boys-versus-girls tennis debacle was seemingly settled 40 years ago when Billie Jean King won the famed "Battle of the Sexes." Back in 1973, the tennis star beat the insufferable opponent Bobby Riggs, who before the match boasted: "I’ll tell you why I’ll win. She’s a woman and they don’t have the emotional stability."
If only King could have tweeted back at him then.