Serena Williams Just Aced A Tennis Legend’s Sexist Comments About Female Players

Can we stop equating success with gender, please?

Things aren't exactly a love-love situation between two tennis legends right now. John McEnroe recently made some unfortunate statements about Serena Williams when getting into a debate over men's tennis versus women's tennis. While there's no actual drama between them, as Williams responded gracefully, we should learn from McEnroe's flub.

It all started with an NPR interview, in which McEnroe was asked why he had to qualify that Williams is the "best female player" the sport has ever seen and not just call her just the "best player" period — something Nike seemed to have had no trouble doing

"Well because if she was in, if she played the men's circuit, she'd be like 700 in the world. That doesn't mean I don't think Serena is an incredible player. But if she had to just play the circuit — the men's circuit — that would be an entirely different story," McEnroe reasoned, sharing an opinion differing from the male leaders of tennis today, such as that of Andy Murray. "Maybe at some point, a women's tennis player can be better than anybody. I just haven't seen it in any other sport, and I haven't seen it in tennis. I suppose anything's possible at some stage."

As for how Williams — who has dealt with sexist remarks before, sometimes delivering honest answers about not smiling — responded, the player with a record 23 Grand Slams took the high road on Twitter, telling McEnroe she wanted no place in this conversation.

McEnroe went on a bit of a non-apology tour on CBS This Morning on Tuesday and continued the conversation of sports as defined by gender. He even threw Williams a bone by begrudgingly ranking her as the No. 5 player of all time. "You happy now?" he asked.

While it seems some still want to quantify someone's success as it relates to their gender, Williams is over the debate. In the most recent Vanity Fair issue — which features her naked, pregnant, and as fierce as ever on the cover — Williams is asked about the subject again and, of course, delivers a simple-yet-direct response:  "If I were a man, then it wouldn't be any sort of a question."

It's something Williams has addressed before, yet it still gets brought up time and time again. It seems as though she got to the author of this piece with her statement because they come to the conclusion that she is the greatest athlete of her generation and call out "a society still conditioned to believe that men are better than women in everything except the superfluous."

Perhaps one day we'll stop comparing men to women and just realize that everyone can be awesome — no matter what gender.

Cover image via serenawilliams / Instagram

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