John McEnroe’s 'No. 700' remark just latest example of the misogyny Serena Williams continues to deal with

Serena Williams would only be around ‘No. 700 in the world’ if she were on the men’s circuit, believes John McEnroe. (AARON FAVILA/AP)

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There’s nothing worse than receiving a backhanded compliment. It’s the epitome of being “politely disrespectful.”

But the worst part about them, is that they can usually be avoided.

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Which is why John McEnroe should have kept his comments about Serena Williams to himself.

John McEnroe: Serena would be 'like No. 700' on men's circuit
During an interview with NPR on Sunday, McEnroe decided he wanted to be the shining example of what annoys women on a daily basis, by trying to be complimentary, while also belittling a woman’s excellence.

McEnroe said that if Williams played on the men’s circuit, she’d be “like No. 700 in the world.”

“On a given day, Serena could beat some players," said McEnroe, who added that Williams is incredible. "I believe because she's so incredibly strong mentally that she could overcome some situations where players would choke 'cause she's been in it so many times, so many situations at Wimbledon, The U.S. Open, etc. But if she had to just play the circuit — the men's circuit — that would be an entirely different story."

Williams responded on Twitter Monday evening, asking McEnroe to respect her and her privacy.

Feel whatever you want to about Williams’ playing style, on-court fashion statements, physique or skin color, but you can’t deny her resume.

Williams is the greatest women’s tennis player ever.

Wait, let me change that.

Serena Williams may be the greatest tennis player ever, period. And even if she isn’t, she’s on the “Tennis Mount Rushmore.”

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But, because she’s a woman, John McEnroe thinks there are 699 men better than her when the average sports fan probably couldn’t even name six current male tennis players.

The sad thing about this entire situation isn’t that McEnroe said something stupid or bombastic because he has a history of that, but that Williams has to continue to deal with men like this, who are White and Black.

Misogyny is truly colorblind.

Back in April, Williams had to deal with former tennis great Ilie Nastase’s racist comments about her unborn child when he commented on the possible skin complexion of the baby due to Williams being in an interracial relationship.

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“Let's see what color it has. Chocolate with milk?” he said.

And in 2009, Jason Whitlock wrote a column “mansplaining” why Williams would never reach her true potential, as he questioned her work ethic and physique.

“With a reduction in glut, a little less butt and a smidgen more guts, Serena Williams would easily be as big as Michael Jackson, dwarf Tiger Woods and take a run at Rosa Parks.

You can call me unfair. You can even scream that I'm sexist.

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But there's an inescapable truth about Serena Williams: She's an underachiever."

Whitlock went on to write that Williams "is quite possibly the most gifted female athlete in our lifetime," but "she lacks the courage to fulfill her destiny."

"She'd rather eat, half-ass her way through non-major tournaments and complain she's not getting the respect her 11-major-championships résumé demands," he wrote, later referring to Serena as just a "celebrity tennis player."

He added: "She's chosen to smother some of it in an unsightly layer of thick, muscled blubber, a byproduct of her unwillingness to commit to a training regimen and diet that would have her at the top of her game year-round."

Serena Williams has accomplished far too many things for me to list them here, but there is a Wikipedia page set up just for that.

Some people don’t like Williams because she’s Black, grunts when she plays, and doesn’t seem to care about being tennis’ sweetheart.

She lives her life like she wants to, and dominates while doing it.

But that’s often frowned upon in our culture when you’re a minority, and especially when you’re a woman.

Racism and misogyny run deep, and Williams is well aware of that.

So as awesome as it may be that a woman is the face of an entire sport, it’s also ridiculous that some men, in 2017, still think that she isn’t good enough.

And that’s what misogyny is: When women have to continuously prove their worth, to mediocre men who love to classify their talents.

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