I’m not exactly a fan of tennis. I mean, I recognize that it takes more athleticism than, say, golf.
I’m familiar with the names of the players, as well, so I know that A) Serena Williams is a very big deal in women’s tennis, and B) John McEnroe has a legendary name in the sport, probably as much for his temperament as his actual skills.
Age and the passage of time may have calmed McEnroe’s more volatile side down, but it didn’t take the bite out of his attitude.
I don’t even know if I would call this “attitude,” as much as I would call it speaking plain truth.
Men and women are different.
Crazy concept, but McEnroe apparently recognizes it.
Speaking with an NPR reporter on Sunday, the former tennis star caused feminist heads to burst into flames, when he suggested that while Serena Williams was the greatest female tennis player in the world, if you pit her against male players, she’d rank about 700th.
The Daily Wire covered the outrage:
Here’s the exchange with NPR reporter Lulu Garcia-Navarro:
Garcia-Navarro: We’re talking about male players but there is of course wonderful female players. Let’s talk about Serena Williams. You say she is the best female player in the world in the book.
McEnroe: Best female player ever — no question.
Garcia-Navarro: Some wouldn’t qualify it, some would say she’s the best player in the world. Why qualify it?
McEnroe: Oh! Uh, she’s not, you mean, the best player in the world, period?
Garcia-Navarro: Yeah, the best tennis player in the world. You know, why say female player?
McEnroe: Well because if she was in, if she played the men’s circuit she’d be like 700 in the world.
OH… you know that was going to cause some to fly into a snit.
While appearing on “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday, McEnroe was confronted by co-host, Norah O’Donnell, who asked if he’d like to apologize.
"Would you like to apologize?" — @NorahODonnell
"No." — John McEnroe pic.twitter.com/BFN8w2EyfY
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) June 27, 2017
And there’s apparently something called a Universal Tennis Rating to consider.
Looking at Williams’ Universal Tennis Rating (UTR), which is the assigned numerical rating to all tennis players — both men and women — ranging on a 0 to 16.39 scale, the female athlete rates at 13.36, whereas dominant male tennis players like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic rate at 16.26 and 16.27 respectively. The scale places Williams on-par with average men’s college players (ranks about 97th out of the top 125 college men’s singles) and nowhere near top-world-ranked men.
Furthermore, in 1998, Williams actually played a set against a male tennis player ranked 203 in the world, Germany’s Karsten Braasch. She got her butt handed to her in embarrassing fashion, taking a 6-1 loss as her opponent smoked cigarettes and sipped beer in between change-overs.
To be fair, that was almost 20 years ago, and Williams has grown as a player. Even I recognize that, but there are the other factors that can’t be denied.
Williams is at such a disadvantage against men because of her genetic make-up: as highlighted in Psychology Today, “Men are on average taller than women, have more muscle mass, stronger bones, tendons, and ligaments, have bigger hearts, a greater lung volume, and a higher red blood cell count.”
Williams is in impressive shape, no doubt, but she’s still a woman, and biology doesn’t care how many feminists go on a rant.
That, and McEnroe wasn’t trying to be insulting. He was just being honest.
People used to value honesty.