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I like it when people speak simple truths in the face of vapid political correctness. John McEnroe did that last weekend, and is experiencing the predictable pushback from an aggrieved press.
In his book But Seriously, McEnroe describes Serena Williams as the best female player in the world. When asked about that in an interview on NPR, McEnroe amplified the comment, saying that Williams is the “best female player ever. No question.”
High praise — but not high enough for NPR interviewer Lulu Garcia-Navarro, who observed that some people would dispense with the qualifying word “female,” and simply claim that Williams is “the best player in the world.” She then challenged McEnroe, asking “Why qualify it?”
McEnroe, to his credit, responded appropriately. He suggested that, if Williams played the men’s circuit, “she’d be like 700th in the world.” He then went on to further praise Ms. Williams, without endorsing the nonsensical view that she would be an effective competitor in the world of men’s professional tennis.
We are too often asked to parrot absurdity in the name of political correctness. I applaud Mr. McEnroe for refusing to yield to demands that he apologize for what were both gracious and correct statements.
For what it’s worth, Serena Williams has herself said that men’s and women’s tennis are effectively different sports, and that she could never compete in men’s tennis. As she said a few years ago, “I only want to play girls, because I don’t want to be embarrassed.”