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Serena Williams hits back at John McEnroe's claims she would struggle in men's tennis

John caused controversy by claiming Serena would be ranked 700th in the world

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Gemma Strong
Gemma StrongOnline Digital News Director
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Serena Williams has disputed John McEnroe's controversial claim that she would struggle to be ranked in the top 700 in men's tennis. Serena, 35, is currently the world number one female tennis player, who has won an Open-era record 23 Grand Slams in her career so far. Speaking on US radio station NPR this week, John remarked: "If she played the men's circuit, she'd be, like, 700 in the world."

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john mcenroe© Photo: Getty Images

John McEnroe has caused controversy by claiming Serena Williams would struggle in men's tennis

He continued: "That doesn't mean I don't think Serena is an incredible player, and I suppose anything's possible; maybe at some point a women's tennis player can be better than anybody." But he added: "I just haven't seen that in any other sport, and I haven't seen it in tennis. If she had to play the men's circuit, it would be an entirely different story."

Serena, who is expecting her first baby with fiancé Alexis Ohanian, later responded to his remarks on Twitter. "Dear John, I adore and respect you but please please keep me out of your statements that are not factually based," she wrote. "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."

Serena hit back at John's comments on Twitter

Serena's most recent win on the tennis court came in January when she won the Australian Open for the seventh time. In April she revealed her pregnancy and said she would be taking a break from tennis, returning in 2018.

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Speaking in 2015, John said he believed he could still beat Serena at tennis. "My daughters are over there," he said during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. "I think it's mixed. They think I'd probably lose to Serena. I believe I could still take her." The 58-year-old won seven Grand Slam singles titles in his career, including three victories at Wimbledon.