John McEnroe Says He Could Beat Serena Williams, Could He? [Video]

by Tom Gainey | August 20th, 2015, 3:11 pm

John McEnroe is never one to shy away from controversy, so last night on the Jimmy Kimmel show the outspoken tennis great declared that he could beat women’s World No. 1 Serena Williams!

“I believe I could still take here,” McEnroe said about playing Serena. “If I lose, to God forbid, to a women then I’m not allowed into any men’s locker room for the next 15 years, or possibly the end of my life. So that’s part of why it’s intriguing.”

McEnroe, though, is 56!!

In 1998, lefty journeyman Karsten Braasch came off the golf course to beat both Williams sisters.

Said Braasch of the different between the men’s and women’s tour: “Both sisters are great tennis players and hit the ball extremely well. However, if you’ve been playing on the men’s tour there are certain shots you can play that are going to put them in difficulty. Try and put a lot spin on the ball – I was hitting the ball with a degree of spin they don’t face week-in, week-out. Another key is to chase down every shot. In our match, they were putting shots into the corners that on the women’s tour would be winners but I was able to return them.”

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15 Comments for John McEnroe Says He Could Beat Serena Williams, Could He? [Video]

jalep Says:

ah hahahhaha….

Ben Pronin Says:

Well I’ll be honest, it wouldn’t surprise me. McEnroe still plays on the senior tour. He competes against two guys that are close to Serena’s age: Roddick and Blake. Roddick is actually a year younger than Serena. While McEnroe hasn’t beaten either one (this year anyway, I didn’t check previous years) he does stay competitive with them. And that says a lot. If he can return Roddick’s serve then he can probably return Serena’s serve. And if he can handle Blake’s forehand at all then he should be able to handle Serena’s forehand. Those are her two biggest weapons. So yeah I could see him beating her. In one set, anyway. I have no idea if he’s fit enough to play best of 3, especially the way Serena plays them.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Ben, I agree. I didn’t know about Mac’s competitiveness on tour. On the other hand, Serena’s serve is probably bigger than he ever faced on the men’s tour! I wonder what Roddick’s MPH are these days?

chris ford1 Says:

I doubt Serena Williams or any other female for that matter, remotely approached the serving ability of McEnroe or some of the rivals he faced. Edberg, Sampras, Goran Invansevic, Pat Cash, Boris Becker, Connors, Lendl, Courier….

Ben Pronin Says:

Edberg, Connors, and Courier didn’t have big serves. Lendl’s wasn’t exactly big either. I know Cash was a net rusher but was his serve actually big?

Sampras, Ivanisevic, and Becker? I mean that’s like 3 of the top 10 or maybe even top 5 serves of all time. But we’re not talking about who McEnroe faced in his career, we’re talking about a 56 year old man 30 years removed from his physical prime against Serena “I hold all 4 slams right now” Williams. That’s why I compared her to who McEnroe is currently competing against. He also competes against Sampras on the senior tour but I honestly don’t know how big Sampras is serving nowadays. I was shocked to see that Sampras is 44!

chris ford1 Says:

Ben – Wasn’t replying to you but to TV’s claim “Serena’s serve is probably bigger than he ever faced on the men’s tour!”.

Which is ridiculous. Start with Edberg then laugh your way down the list I gave. And then imagine players like Lendl playing with today’s rackets.

It’s sort of like saying the 5 or so best women in the WNBA could make a NBA roster with their skills shown to be so superior to other women…they could take their top rebound, steals, 3 point % and beat guys too!!
No, they couldn’t.

Fred Bartsch Says:

I think Serenas serve is bigger than Johns was in his prime. Serve was not his strong point. The rest of his game far surpassed his serves and he, like Martina Hingis were finesse players. I have watched several of the senior tour matches John has played lately – if Serena hits the first return to one side then the other, the point will be over quickly. We all like to live in the past – when I was 35 I was a pretty good motocross racer – I’m 80 now – and not so good. John, I will bet $5.00 on Serena.

jane Says:

“…lose to, god forbid, a woman…”

okay serena – it’s on! i think you gotta take him up on this. i know i wanna see it. ;)

SG1 Says:

Ben Pronin Says:
Edberg, Connors, and Courier didn’t have big serves. Lendl’s wasn’t exactly big either.


I’ll buy that Connors’ serve was just a point starter. But the other guys? Lendl served very big for his era. He was consistently serving in the 120 mph range which for that era, was very big serving. Watch the Mac vs Lendl ’87 USO match. Lendl’s serve was quite powerful.

Even Jim Courier had a reasonably powerful serve. Not up there with Lendl or Becker but definitely not weak.

As for Edberg, his serve was just so damned effective. His serve was part of his tactical approach. He kicked the ball up really high in the days when Luxilon didn’t exist, gave himself time to get to net and ate up the weak returns with the best volleys of his era.

In my mind, Boris Becker’s service speed was somewhat overrated. Compared to watching Sampras’ serve, his seemed meek in terms of speed.

MMT Says:

I would love to see this – Bobby Riggs was 55 when he challenged Billie Jean King who was 29 when they played.

It would seem to me that McEnroe is in much better shape than Riggs was. I also feel that King was relatively closer in capacity as a tennis player to King than Serena is to McEnroe, who’s serve alone would make it difficult for Serena, whereas I don’t see Serena’s serve giving McEnroe any trouble at all, and that is by far her greatest weapon.

The other thing that McEnroe does well is slice, drop and lob, and while Serena is very fast, her footwork is not the best, and I think she would have trouble with all of the required changes in direction, whereas I don’t think she has the technique to force McEnroe to do the same, although he too would struggle with that.

My guess would be McEnroe in straight sets.

Ben Pronin Says:

I don’t think McEnroe is in physical condition to play for 2 or more sets against Serena. I do think he’d get a set before probably wilting away.

SG1, I wasn’t sure about Lendl, thanks for clearing that up.

I know that Edberg had an awesome serve, but it wasn’t big speed wise. I feel like we’re underrating Serena’s serve quite a bit. She’s definitely not at Sampras’s level but her serve speed on both first and second serve are close to if not better than a lot of the men on tour today and she’s great at hitting her spots. But like I said, I think if McEnroe can handle a 32 year old Roddick’s serve, then he should be able to get at Serena’s serve, too.

MMT, I’d say the slices and lobs and whatnot would be the only way McEnroe would be able to win. He’s not going to overpower Serena by any means. And yeah, his serve should give her all kinds of fits.

Andrew Moss Says:

Jonny Mac may or may not be able to do it, but age shouldn’t be the issue. He’s stayed fit all this time and age appears no longer to be a factor on the ATP tour.

More than 1 in 5 players are now reaching a better year-end ranking in their 30s than ANY year in their late 20s.

jalep Says:

makes one wonder, Andrew Moss.

Interesting article. Will look for part 2. thanks.
Good job.

SG1 Says:

I tend to believe, as Ben mentioned, that Serena’s best shot wouldn’t be good enough to consistently hurt McEnroe though I do think would Serena would hurt him on his 2nd serve.

This is such a compelling match up. Hopefully, there are forces out there with the will (and the $$$’s) to make this match a reality.

Would be a very nice event to raise money for a good charity.

Georgy Gal Says:

Would be a good match.

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