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Serena Williams Clapped Back at This Tennis Legend Who Dared to Question How She'd Rank Among Male Players

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Serena Williams' incredible career has made her a living legend, and at the start of an NPR interview Monday, fellow tennis legend John McEnroe seemed to agree. "Best female player ever—no question," he said when asked about Serena. However, when pressed about why he emphasized "female," what at first seemed like a compliment became a backhanded remark. "Well," John said, "if she played the men's circuit she'd be like 700 in the world."

While we'll probably never know how Serena would do in the men's circuit, 700th seems more like an insult than an estimate; after all, this is the woman who achieved the #1 women's tennis ranking in the world while pregnant. Actions speak louder than words, and after winning her 23rd Grand Slam in January, Serena's close to tying the all-time record for most Grand Slams won by a female tennis player. (Roger Federer, the current Grand Slam record holder in men's tennis, has only 18.) Her skill is undeniable, and to suggest otherwise is just straight-up rude.

Serena clearly agrees and clapped back at John on Twitter Monday afternoon. "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."

After this iconic slam, the ball was back in John's court, but he refused to make things right. During an interview on CBS Tuesday morning, he said he wouldn't apologize. "That doesn’t mean I don’t think Serena is an incredible player," he told interviewers. "She’s the greatest player, female player, that’s ever lived."

It's 2017, and athletes are defined by their talent, not their gender. But it looks like John missed the memo.


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