Would Serena Williams Succeed On The Men’s Tour?

How would Serena Williams fare on the men’s tour?

That was apparently a valid question to ask tennis great John McEnroe, who has been hitting the media circuit to promote his new book “But Seriously”.  Now I’m not sure why that would be questioned, or what that has to do with a book that is about McEnroe’s life after tennis, but more eyebrows are going t be raised with his answer than with the posing of the ridiculous question.

McEnroe said that although he thinks Serena is an incredible player, that she would probably be “like #700 in the world” on the men’s circuit.

I love Johnny Mac.  He was the first tennis player I rooted for as a kid (yep I’m aging myself right now… although he was at the end of his playing career back then), which is probably why I ended up having a horrible temper and breaking my share of rackets when I was growing up and possibly still to this day.  That brass personality is something that the game has desperately lacked since he retired, and his honest opinions make him a great, if not controversial, commentator for the sport.

This was his honest opinion of where Serena would rank on the men’s tour.  I don’t agree with that – I think he is placing her way too low in the rankings – but I respect his opinion and can understand where he’s coming from.

In my mind, Serena is the best women’s player of all time.  She’s by far the best that I’ve ever seen, and I was around for Steffi Graf’s dominance and the Monica Seles era before she was stabbed on the court in one of the scariest moments in recent sports history.  But what Serena has done consistently in her career is astonishing.  She’s the favorite in every tournament she plays in on any surface regardless of how long it’s been since she’s played.  She’ll likely be the favorite in her first tournament back after her current pregnancy if she chooses to restart her career.  She also dominated on the doubles tour with her sister when they played together, and altogether she has 39 Grand Slam titles and four gold medals.  Those numbers alone make her the best ever.

The men’s tour is a totally different animal than the women’s tour.  The velocity and precision of every shot on the men’s side is at a much higher level than on the women’s side.  The physicality that guys like Rafael Nadal plays with will make even the fittest opponents completely exhausted, especially in the best-of-five set matches.  Plus, the depth of the men’s tour is at an all-time high, which is evidenced by what has happened to Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic in the last few months.  Those two guys were almost unstoppable for a few years, and now they can be beat by almost anyone at any time if they don’t bring their A game to the courts.

That point makes me think Serena would be much higher than #700 on the men’s side.  She’d probably get wildcards into a lot of tournaments, and if she could pick off a couple lower-ranked players in the early rounds, she would probably be ranked around #100.  As great as she is, I just don’t see her competing with the players in the Top 50 or 100 on a consistent basis, and the differences in shots and game would take its toll on her both physically and mentally.

I’m sure if McEnroe was given an opportunity to explain his comments, he probably would have listed some of the similar reasons that I just did as to why he thinks Serena would be ranked so low on the men’s tour.  The problem is that he didn’t get that chance, and people will just jump to the conclusion that he is making a sexist and insensitive comment about women in sports.  You could already see it happening on Twitter on Sunday after the story broke.

But the best response may have been from Serena herself:

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how people think Serena would do if she had potentially face male players, and hopefully her answer will make this silly hypothetical go away quickly. With Wimbledon starting in a week, the tennis world should be focusing on the third major and not what Serena’s ranking would be on the ATP Tour.

Written by: Adam Belue (@albinomamba44)

One thought on “Would Serena Williams Succeed On The Men’s Tour?

  • June 27, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Great post! you nailed it. As an avid tennis player, I couldn’t agree more. I was just discussing this topic at lunch, and we nearly said identical things. Awesome.


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