McEnroe vs. Serena: 44 years after ‘Battle of the Sexes,’ the same dumb debate

Here we are in 2017 discussing whether Serena Williams can beat the 700th-ranked man or a 58-year-old guy with a big mouth. Why is it that we’re still framing a battle of the sexes as the ultimate test, as if until a woman athlete proves she can beat a mediocre man, she won’t have wrested control of the clicker, the thermostat, and the wheel? Like one stunt by Williams could make up for the whole imbalance, every crummy dollar and cent.

John McEnroe has been baiting Serena and Venus Williams into a match for years, to try to drum up business for himself. Remember: This is a guy who won the last of his major championships back in 1984, but has managed to stay on some sort of screen ever since with his glib jaw. So understand that when he said to Jimmy Kimmel about Serena, “I believe I could still take her,” and then rambled to NPR that she would rank no better than 700th on the men’s circuit, it was just part of a media tour to huckster his new autobiography.

McEnroe is actually pro-feminist and an advocate for equal prize money, and he admits that Serena, the winner of 24 Grand Slams, could probably take him “in the ring,” and that his best chance is to “catch her while she’s pregnant.” All of which is pretty amusing, but not nearly as interesting as what Serena herself had to say over the weekend, at the same time McEnroe was running his outboard engine mouth.