NEW YORK • Serena Williams has told John McEnroe to "keep me out of your statements that are not factually based" after he reopened a time-worn debate by saying she would "be like 700 in the world" if she played on the men's Tour.
World No. 4 Williams, who is set to be out of action until next year after announcing in April that she is expecting her first child, wrote on Twitter on Monday: "Dear John, I adore and respect you but please please keep me out of your statements that are not factually based. 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's comments came during a US National Public Radio interview on Sunday to promote his memoir, "But Seriously".
Russia's Dmitry Tursunov, ranked No. 701 in the world, weighed in, telling the BBC that he believes he would beat Williams.
"I would hope that I would win against Serena," he said.
"Tennis is becoming more and more a physical sport, so it's going to be hard for a woman to beat the men."
Williams has won multiple Grand Slam titles - 23 in singles, 14 in women's doubles, and two in mixed doubles.
Dear John... please please keep me out of your statements that are not factually based. I've never played anyone ranked 'there' nor do I have time.
SERENA WILLIAMS, women's tennis world No. 4, imploring John McEnroe to button up.
Her most recent Major victory came at January's Australian Open, setting an Open era record and moving one shy of Margaret Court's all-time Slam singles title record.
The 35-year-old plans to return to the Tour next year.
In 2015, seven-time Major singles champion McEnroe, who is now 58, said he believed he could still beat Williams.
The hypotheticals have failed to impress sports columnist Sally Jenkins, who wrote a piece for the Washington Post headlined: "McEnroe vs. Serena: 44 years after 'Battle of the Sexes,' the same dumb debate".
She noted that McEnroe "has been baiting Serena and (sister) Venus Williams into a match for years, to try to drum up business for himself".
THE GUARDIAN, WASHINGTON POST