Defiant John McEnroe Won’t Apologize to Serena Williams

Will Lerner
Producer, Yahoo Entertainment

John McEnroe appeared on CBS This Morning Tuesday amid a controversy he created. During an NPR interview on June 25, the former No. 1 men’s tennis player in the world claimed that current tennis superstar Serena Williams would rank only 700th if she played on the men’s circuit.

John McEnroe appeared on CBS This Morning and declined to apologize to Serena Williams. (Photo: CBS)

“That doesn’t mean I don’t think Serena is an incredible player,” McEnroe told Lulu Garcia-Navarro. “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. … But if she had to just play the circuit — the men’s circuit — that would be an entirely different story.”

On CBS This Morning, Norah O’Donnell asked him if he would like to apologize. “No,” said McEnroe. Gayle King pressed him to answer Charlie Rose’s initial question — why even make the comment?

“It wasn’t necessary,” admitted McEnroe. “It was not necessary.”

“You knew it would create controversy,” suggested Rose.

“No, I didn’t know it would create controversy,” McEnroe quickly replied.

“You didn’t?” Rose asked with incredulity in his voice.

“No,” insisted McEnroe.

Williams, meanwhile, has already responded to McEnroe’s comments with a pair of tweets:

King explained why many people felt McEnroe’s comments were insulting. “Men are stronger, men are faster, we all get that, but I think it sort of belittles what women do on the tennis court, I think that’s why people are upset,” she said.

“The fact that you ranked her 700, so my question to you is, she won Australia weeks pregnant,” King continued before turning the tables on McEnroe. “You ranked her at 700 on the men’s. Where would you put yourself [currently]?”

“I would be currently about 1,200 in the world,” McEnroe said.

McEnroe, who is on a press tour for his new book, But Seriously, remained defiant until the end of his interview.

“No apology to Serena, really?” King tried again.

“Listen, I would be happy to apologize to Serena, Gayle, if that makes you feel better,” McEnroe said.

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