The Corner

Culture

The John McEnroe-Serena Williams Controversy Shows the Insanity of Radical Gender Politics

Watch this extraordinary exchange between the CBS This Morning crew and tennis great John McEnroe:

At issue was his “controversial” response to an NPR reporter who pointedly asked him why he called Serena Williams the greatest “female” tennis player who’s ever lived. Here’s the NPR exchange:

Lulu Garcia-Navarro: We’re talking about male players but there is of course wonderful female players. Let’s talk about Serena Williams. You say she is the best female player in the world in the book.

McEnroe: Best female player ever — no question.

Garcia-Navarro: Some wouldn’t qualify it, some would say she’s the best player in the world. Why qualify it?

Let’s pause for a moment and ponder the strangeness of this question. Has Garcia-Navarro never actually watched men and women play professional tennis? Besides, why does it matter? Am I ageist if I suggest that 28-year-old NBA MVP Russell Westbrook is currently a better basketball player than 54-year-old Michael Jordan? Of course not. Biology is biology. That’s life.

McEnroe was obviously surprised by the question and made the “mistake” (at least in PC terms) of answering honestly.

McEnroe: Oh! Uh, she’s not, you mean, the best player in the world, period?

Garcia-Navarro: Yeah, the best tennis player in the world. You know, why say female player?

McEnroe: Well because if she was in, if she played the men’s circuit she’d be like 700 in the world.

People are losing their minds. I’m reminded of the absurd recent “debate” over whether female UFC star Ronda Rousey could beat — of all people — Floyd Mayweather, Jr. That debate ended when Holly Holm knocked out Rousey with the “kick heard ’round the world.” 

I’d be tempted to simply shake my head and laugh, but then I remember that radical gender politics are so ingrained in our national life that our military is even now in the process of integrating women into the infantry — a decision that will decrease the combat power of mixed-gender units and increase the physical risks to both men and the women alike. 

Serena Williams is a tremendous athlete, a historic talent. There is no shame in being the best athlete in her sport, and her sport is women’s tennis. Let’s honor people for who they are, not for who they aren’t. In the meantime, it would behoove members of the so-called “party of science” to remember that biology actually does trump ideology. No amount of wishful thinking will change the facts of athletic life.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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