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Serena Williams Responds After John McEnroe Says She Couldn't Beat Male Tennis Players

Almost 50 years after tennis's Battle of the Sexes, we're still doing this apparently.

Originally posted on
Updated on

McEnroe made the comment in an interview to NPR promoting his new book. The 58-year-old has been ranked as one of the best men's players in recent history, and he earned a reputation of being confrontational on the court.

In John McEnroe's new book "But Seriously," he calls Serena Williams the best female player ever.… https://t.co/Xn6u2i12yn

In the interview, McEnroe said Williams was without a doubt the best women's tennis player in the world.

"Why say female player?" NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro asked.

"Well because if she was in, if she played the men's circuit she'd be like 700 in the world," McEnroe said.

"You think so?" Garcia-Navarro asked.

"Yeah. 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."

People simply disagreed.

Fact: Serena Williams is the greatest tennis player of all time. Yes, she's greater than Roger and Rafa. Accepting… https://t.co/vlrKf0dU4p

Serena Williams is a Top 10 athlete. Gender should be irrelevant to the discussion. She dominates her competition at an insanely high level.

And wondered if it was time for a new tennis Battle of the Sexes.

@NPR She should do a Billy Jean King on him.

Though other people wondered what the big deal was.

@NPR i dont see what the issue with this is. theres a reason women compete separately in virtually all sports. is i… https://t.co/y6EH1mddSe

In response, Williams respectfully told McEnroe to keep her name outta his mouth.

Dear John, I adore and respect you but please please keep me out of your statements that are not factually based.

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

"Dear John, I adore and respect you but please please keep me out of your statements that are not factually based. 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," she tweeted.

Williams has in the past said her accomplishments in the sport have been judged differently because she's a woman.

WATCH: "If I were a man, I'd have been considered the greatest a long time ago." -@serenawilliams

And it's true that she's been busy lately: joining the board of Silicon Valley's Survey Monkey, working on a campaign against domestic violence, and playing tennis — while in her third trimester of pregnancy.

Instagram: @serenawilliams

Claudia Koerner is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Claudia Koerner at claudia.koerner@buzzfeed.com.

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