John McEnroe Says He 'Never' Wants to Play Serena Williams After Ranking Her 'No. 700' on Men's Circuit
By Jackie Willis
John McEnroe is willing to apologize to Serena Williams ..."if that makes you feel better."
The former tennis pro appeared on Tuesday's episode of CBS This Morning and was asked about the remarks he made about Williams when being interviewed by NPR. "If she played the men's circuit, she'd be, like, 700 in the world," McEnroe said after calling Williams the best woman tennis player in the world.
"I respect Serena very much so, I was simply calling her on a NPR [interview that] she’s the greatest female player that ever lived," he said, explaining his controversial comments to the co-anchors of CBS This Morning. "Then the woman said to me, ‘Why did you say woman? Why don’t you just say the greatest tennis player that ever lived?’ Then I felt the need to defend myself and say what I really felt, which is about what I think she would be."
McEnroe added, "I have the solution, why don't men and women just play together?" As for whether he'd ever go up against Williams, he admitted, "I never wanted to play Serena. People always ask me about playing Serena."
After hearing of the 58-year-old former athlete's NPR interview, Williams -- whoseVanity Fair cover was released on Tuesday morning -- responded to the remarks on Twitter. "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 he didn't think his comments would "create controversy," insisting that he only wants the best for Williams. "I don’t want anything to go wrong with Serena because she’s pregnant, I don’t want to upset her or whatever it was," he said. "I think she was [tweeting] tongue-in-cheek as well. I can’t even believe we’re talking about it."
As for whether he feels any remorse for what he said about Williams, McEnroe responded, "Look, I would be happy to apologize to Serena now if that makes you feel better. I think Serena is incredible.”