Earlier this evening, I saw John McEnroe’s interview with CBS News anchors who grilled him about some remarks he made about Serena Williams (see above). McEnroe said in an interview with NPR on Sunday that he believed that Serena Williams would be ranked about 700th in the world if she were playing on the men’s circuit. The anchors suggest that McEnroe is denigrating Serena Willams’s success, that he owes her an apology, and that he made the remark in order to increase his book sales.
McEnroe refuses to apologize, and I think he was right to do so. If you look at the NPR interview, it is clear that McEnroe was not denigrating Serena Williams. He was asked a pointed question, and he gave an honest answer. Read it for yourself:
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.
Garcia-Navarro: You think so?
McEnroe: Yeah. 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 U.S. Open, etc. But if she had to just play the circuit — the men’s circuit — that would be an entirely different story.
McEnroe did not denigrate Serena Williams. On the contrary, he called her the greatest female tennis player of all time. McEnroe did not bring the issue up to increase book sales. On the contrary, the NPR reporter raised the question. McEnroe merely answered the questions by stating the obvious.
It is a fact that men generally have greater muscle mass, denser bone structure, and taller frames than women. That means that male athletes are generally bigger and faster and stronger than their female counterparts. Is McEnroe really supposed to apologize for saying something that everyone already knows to be true? I hope not.
This little episode reveals just how much our culture’s understanding of male and female has shifted. Because of transgenderism or as in this case feminism, people are increasingly willing (and even expected) to overlook the biological realities that distinguish men and women. The result of this drift is that what used to be considered common sense is now considered insensitive. That is what caught McEnroe by surprise. But it doesn’t make what he said any less true. It just reveals a cultural drift toward the absurd.