Serena Williams Pretty Much Agreed With John McEnroe In 2013

Tennis legend John McEnroe is no stranger to controversy. He was renowned for controversies during his heyday on the courts. Fast forward to 2017, and he's found himself in the middle of the silliest non-controversial controversy.

McEnroe made headlines answering a reporter's question as to why he qualified Williams as best "women's" tennis player --- not the best of ever, saying she would rank around 700th on the men's circuit. His comments ruffled the feathers of liberals and even Miss Williams herself.

As luck would have it, Williams confirmed McEnroe's assertion in 2013 on The Late Show with David Letterman:

"Well, actually it's funny because Andy Murray, he has been joking about myself and him playing a match. And I'm like, "Andy, seriously, like, are you kidding me?" Because for me, tennis -- men's tennis and women's tennis are completely almost two separate sports. So I'm like, if I were to play Andy Murray, I would lose 6-0, 6-0, in five to six minutes, maybe 10 minutes."

Co-host Jeffy Fisher made a prescient observation.

"So all the people that are wanting to abolish sex-segregated sports entirely so women can compete against elite male athletes and get the recognition they deserve, I say yes," Jeffy said.

Glenn agree whole-heartedly.

"I want to see them on the football field. I want to see them on the baseball field. I want to see them absolutely everywhere. Let's just end this nonsense: There is no separation between men and women because we're all exactly the same. Go for it," Glenn said replied.

Enjoy the complimentary clip or read the transcript for details.

GLENN: Let's start with John McEnroe. John McEnroe caused a huge controversy. This is this guy's whole life. He said that Serena Williams, the best women's player in the world, would rank about 700 on the men's tour.

Now, the problem with this is, didn't we have this same debate with Billie Jean King? And who was the guy who --

PAT: Bobby Riggs.

GLENN: Yeah, Bobby Riggs.

PAT: Yeah, he was 55 years old at the time.

GLENN: Yeah. And so this was the same thing about women are just as good as men. Blah, blah, blah.

Well, I'm sorry. But the muscle mass alone is completely different with men. They just have more power than women. It's why there are no women boxers that are going against men. You know, you're not -- you're not going to put Mike Tyson in the ring with the strongest woman in the world because Mike will knock her out. And John McEnroe, he doesn't need anybody to run to his defense, other than the woman who is now playing the victim, Serena Williams. Listen to what she said on Letterman about herself and Andy Murray.

SERENA: Well, actually it's funny because Andy Murray, he has been joking about myself and him playing a match. And I'm like, "Andy, seriously, like, are you kidding me?" Because for me, tennis -- men's tennis and women's tennis are completely almost two separate sports. So I'm like, if I were to play Andy Murray, I would lose 6-0, 6-0, in five to six minutes, maybe 10 minutes.

No, it's true. It's true. It's a completely -- it's a completely different sport. The men are a lot faster than me. They get -- they serve harder. They hit harder. It's just a different game. And I love to play women's tennis. And I -- and I only want to play girls because I don't want to be embarrassed. I would not do the tour. I wouldn't do Billie Jean any justice. So, Andy, stop it.

PAT: Oh, my goodness. How could she say that?

STU: And how can you act like the victim when you said this on national television already?

PAT: Yeah, it is weird that she's acting like the victim.

STU: Yeah.

PAT: When she -- first of all, just to add another little element to this, Glenn, that you may not know, Serena Williams and her sister Venus, back in 1998 claimed they could beat any man who wasn't in the top 200 in the world.

So the man who was ranked 203rd in the world challenged them, and they played. And he -- he played golf that morning. And then while drinking a beer between games and smoking cigarettes on the court, he beat Serena 6-1, and he beat Venus 6-2. So I mean, it was settled with them almost 20 years ago. And then in 2013, she said that to David Letterman. I love the --

GLENN: That's not 700, Pat.

PAT: No, that's true. That's 203.

GLENN: So let me ask you this, why would McEnroe -- McEnroe loves controversy. Why is McEnroe even bringing this up?

STU: You know why he's bringing it up? And this is the part that everyone's missing in the story. He's bringing it up because he was being a wuss and bailing out of the actual point. He was trying so hard to compliment Serena. And John MacEnroe, knowing enough -- a lot obviously about tennis, being a commentator and a long-time player knows that her being seven hundredth in the world is ridiculous. He's actually going and saying --

PAT: He's giving her the benefit of the doubt.

STU: The benefit of the doubt. He said, she's the best female player of all time. He said she might be the best athlete comparatively of all time, because she has dominated her sport so incredibly. But in reality, the people who are 1,000th in the world would also beat Serena Williams easily. And it's not even a knock on Serena Williams. It would be an incredible accomplishment that she would be able to hang with these guys.

We're talking about players that have dominated, you know, entire countries that are ranked 700 and 1,000th in the world. She is a great tennis player and probably the best female player of all time. Though, you could argue that. But when it comes to playing against men, it's just -- there's not a competition there.

PAT: And we're supposed to pretend though now that they're exactly the same, even physically. That they have the same abilities. And the same structure. And the same makeup. And they can compete on an equal basis on every -- on every single playing field. And it's just not true. And we all know it's about it's not true. So why do we try to play this game?

STU: Yeah. And I think the most important thing as far as our audience and conversation is to watch the commentators -- it's the same thing we see in the media. Like, you know, I was watching a show on ESPN, where we were talking about this. And the only person I saw on ESPN all day who had the guts to even talk about this honestly was Will Cane. Who, you know, used to work here.

GLENN: Yeah.

STU: But all these commentators are going into these points that they know aren't true. And they're trying so hard not getting fired by ESPN, who fires anyone who says anything mildly controversial. And they were saying things like this.

And Serena Williams kind of made this point here jokingly. But they all said, oh, come on. You can't compare these two.

Men's -- women's tennis is a completely different sport.

No, it's not. It is not. It is tennis. They play it differently because men are capable of more things. They hit the ball harder. They are faster, as Serena pointed out, herself.

It is the same sport. The only reason that women's tennis exists is because women can't play as well as men. Period.

PAT: That's why all women's sports exists. That's why there's a women's basketball league.

STU: Exactly. It's the same sport. If you wanted them all to compete against each other because they were capable of doing the same things, you would just have tennis. Because it's the same thing. They're hitting it the same way.

And it goes back to what you were talking about yesterday, Glenn. How many genders are there? All these basic questions that we all know the answers to and we all used to admit to ourselves. Now we have to deny.

GLENN: Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow.


GLENN: Listen to the oppression. Seriously. No, I'm dead serious. Listen to the oppression that's spewing out of Stu's mouth.

STU: I was quoting you. And, by the way, how many genders are there? I don't know. Ask tennis that has men's tennis and women's tennis. They seem to understand there are two. Why don't they have 27 or 96 different divisions?

PAT: They're working on Xi tennis right now.

STU: Xi tennis is coming?

PAT: Yes, yes. Xi tennis is -- X-I is coming.

GLENN: Oh, my gosh. Is that only being played by the president of China?

PAT: No, it's a different kind of Xi.

GLENN: Oh, the gender Xi.

PAT: The gender Xi.

STU: Pat, you brought this up. Because there's a movie coming out with Steve Carell in it as Bobby Riggs, which looks amazing.

PAT: Yeah.

STU: Partially because they admit what actually happened, which was Riggs took it as a giant joke. He was trolling people like Andy Kaufman did. He wanted to be the villain. He liked it. He thought it was funny as a 55-year-old to come in and play.

PAT: Plus, it brought everybody a lot of money. It created an aura around tennis. People got interested in tennis. It was a really good thing in the '70s.

GLENN: Wasn't Philadelphia Freedom written about that?

PAT: Yeah, it was written about Billie Jean King. Not necessarily the match about Bobby Riggs. But Elton John was a big Billie Jean King fan. But people forget that a few months before he lost to Billie Jean King, he had beaten the number one women's tennis player in the world, and he beat her severely. I mean, he crushed her. And she is the person who has the most grand slam wins of all time, Margaret Court. And he beat her, I think 6-2, 6-1. It wasn't even a match.

STU: And we all just remembered the second time, where he lost -- didn't train.

PAT: Yeah, right.

STU: Was completely out of shape.

PAT: Took it -- and not seriously.

STU: Fifty-five years old. And he wasn't even the best men's player when he was playing. I mean, it's so ridiculous.

PAT: Right.

JEFFY: And so all the people that are wanting to abolish sex-segregated sports entirely so women can compete against elite male athletes and get the recognition they deserve, I say yes.

GLENN: I say yes.

STU: Fully support it.

GLENN: I say absolutely yes.

PAT: Let's do it.

GLENN: I want to see them on the football field. I want to see them on the baseball field. I want to see them absolutely everywhere. Let's just end this nonsense. There is no separation between men and women, because we're all exactly the same. Go for it.

STU: And if you can't be honest about like a conversation like this about Serena Williams and admit that she, while a great player and incredibly skilled, would not be able to compete in the men's division -- if you can't admit that, why aren't you supporting these divisions being combined?

What the heck is wrong with you? If you think she could beat all these men, why is she only playing women? It's ridiculous. They should all be together. There should be no WNBA. There should be no women's tennis. No women's gymnastic. You could make a serious argument that women are more flexible and do things that men can't do in gymnastic. I don't know. Maybe they would dominate. There's a lot of things that they're -- that might happen.

But then let it happen. If you believe it, let it happen.

GLENN: What -- I mean -- apologize to this audience for the oppression that is happening right here, Stu.

STU: Yesterday, you were so soft-spoken and understanding. We're here for 18 minutes, and look at what's happening.

GLENN: I'm very understanding. What a sexist oppressor. What a white male oppressor?

PAT: Thank you. Don't forget privilege.

GLENN: Here's the thing I've really come to understand, Stu, you can't even discuss things, I mean, as a white male. You don't have any experience except the experience of an oppressor.

PAT: Right. That's right.

STU: I don't think that's right actually.

GLENN: Of course, that's what oppressors say.

PAT: Always.


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