McEnroe says he regrets comments on Serena Williams
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[June 29, 2017]
By Rory Carroll
(Reuters) - John McEnroe on Wednesday
said he regretted recently saying Serena Williams would be ranked
"like 700 in the world" if she had to play on the men's circuit and
said he was surprised by the controversy his comments ignited.
McEnroe previously said that Williams, a record 23-times grand slam
champion in the professional era, was the best female player ever
but then declined to label her the best player overall, prompting
Williams to ask McEnroe for "respect".
"It would have been better not to have said it. I didn't realize it
would create something like this," he told reporters on an ESPN
conference call ahead of the July 3 start of the Wimbledon
championships, the third grand slam event of the year.
"It would have been easier to leave it. Look, she's a great player
and it's apples and oranges."
But McEnroe, a seven-times grand slam winner and current ESPN
broadcaster, did not retract his earlier statement about where
Williams would rank if she competed against men.
"This is not something that has been earth shattering, that I feel
there's a difference in the level of the women and the men," he
Williams, who has taken a break from tennis to have
her first child, due in late August, responded testily to McEnroe on
Twitter after his initial comments.
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Canada's Milos Raonic coach John McEnroe during his semi final match
Action Images via Reuters / Tony O'Brien Livepic
"Dear John, I adore and respect you but please please keep me out of
your statements that are not factually based," she wrote.
"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."
McEnroe said that Williams, a fellow American, has been great for
U.S. tennis, which has not seen a single American male player win a
major tournament since 2003.
"Obviously if it wasn't for Serena, American tennis would even be in
a lot deeper trouble," he said.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Larry Fine)
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