While promoting his book ‘But Seriously’ in 2017, John McEnroe, intentionally or unintentionally, found himself in hot water over his comments about Serena Williams and her legacy.
Speaking to National Public Radio, the seven-time Grand Slam champion stated that although he believed Williams to be the greatest female tennis player ever, she wasn’t the best among all the players.
“Best female player ever, no question. But if she played on the men’s circuit, she’d be like 700 in the world,” McEnroe said. “That doesn’t mean I don’t think Serena is an incredible player. I do 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 because she’s been in it so many times. But if she had to just play the circuit, the men’s circuit, that would be an entirely different story.”
There was a huge uproar after McEnroe’s comments as fans criticized him for being insensitive, particularly for saying those things when the 23-time Grand Slam champion was pregnant. Williams took to social media to hit back at McEnroe, asking him to respect her and leave her out of his statements.
“Dear John, I adore and respect you but please please keep me out of your statements that are not factually based,” Williams tweeted.
“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,” Williams added.
McEnroe made a public appearance on the Dan Patrick Show shortly after Williams’ tweets and stood by what he said despite the backlash. He even suggested a matchup between the American legend and either Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal to find out what would happen. When asked what he would say to Williams when he saw her next, the 63-year-old stated that he would buy her 700 roses.
“I’m going to buy her 700 roses. Is that okay?” McEnroe said.
John McEnroe picked 2008 Wimbledon final as one of the most significant moments of Roger Federer’s career
Before the 2022 Laver Cup began last month, Team World captain John McEnroe was asked to pick significant moments from Roger Federer’s career. The American was quick to name the 2008 Wimbledon final, where Federer was looking to win his sixth consecutive title, but was stopped by Rafael Nadal in a five-set thriller.
“That was, at that time, the greatest match I ever saw. It’s okay to remember one that he lost because of the way that he lost. He couldn’t give any more,” John McEnroe said. “There’s still a lot of talk about my match against Bjorn at Wimbledon in 1980 and I lost, so it’s okay to pick a Roger loss as that one moment.”