Tennis legend John McEnroe on Sunday said that while he thought Serena Williams was the greatest women’s tennis player ever, she wouldn’t be able to compete on the men’s circuit.
Speaking on NPR to promote his new book, “But Seriously,” McEnroe was asked about Williams and called her the “best female player ever – no question.”
When asked why it needed to be qualified, McEnroe said, “Well because if she was in, if she played the men’s circuit, she’d be like 700 in the world.”
McEnroe went on to suggest Williams could beat some men’s players because of her mental fortitude, but he said he did not think she was athletic enough to beat men at a high rate:
“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 US Open, etc. But if she had to just play the circuit – the men’s circuit – that would be an entirely different story.
“Maybe at some point a women’s tennis player can be better than anybody. I just haven’t seen it in any other sport, and I haven’t seen it in tennis. I suppose anything’s possible at some stage.”
McEnroe pointed to the time differences in men’s and women’s track races as another example of the physical gap.
According to ESPN, McEnroe called Williams “arguably the greatest athlete of the last 100 years” after she won Wimbledon in 2015.
Asked whether he could beat Williams, McEnroe joked that since she was pregnant, it might be his chance.