Serena Williams says her status as one of greatest athletes ever 'wouldn't be a question' if she were a man in Vanity Fair interview

The tennis great is really, really tired of this question

Emily Shugerman
New York
Tuesday 27 June 2017 22:31 BST
Serena Williams of the US holds up the trophy following her victory over Venus Williams of the US in the women's singles final
Serena Williams of the US holds up the trophy following her victory over Venus Williams of the US in the women's singles final (PAUL CROCK/AFP/Getty Images)

Serena Williams is tired of being asked if she considers herself the greatest athlete of our time.

The four-time Olympic gold medalist and five-time WTA champion answered the question decisively in a recent interview with Vanity Fair: “If I were a man, then it wouldn’t be any sort of question,” she said.

Ms Williams – who also holds the record for most Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles combined – has previously corrected reporters who asked if she is “one of the greatest female athletes of all time".

“I prefer the words ‘one of the greatest athletes of all time," she said at a post-Wimbledon press conference.

These days, the tennis champ is taking a break from the court, preparing for the birth of her first child.

She learned she was pregnant just one week before the Australian Open in January.

“If you would have told me last year in October or November that I would have a baby, not be pregnant but have a baby, I would have thought you were the biggest liar in the world,” she told Vanity Fair.

She added: “This is kind of how I am right now. This is happening sooner than later, and it’s going by so fast.”

But Ms Williams nine-month hiatus hasn’t shielded her from the incessant debate over where she would rank on a hypothetical list of “greatest athletes of our time”.

In a recent interview with NPR, former tennis great John McEnroe claimed Ms Williams would be ranked “like, 700 in the world” if she played in the men’s circuit. (He estimated that he would rank 1,200th.)

“That doesn't mean I don't think Serena is an incredible player,” he said. “I do … But if she had to just play the circuit — the men's circuit — that would be an entirely different story.”

Ms Williams, who has been ranked No 1 in the world by the WTA on eight separate occasions, fired back 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.

In a follow-up tweet, she added: “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.”

Mr McEnroe declined to apologise during recent appearance on CBS’ “This Morning,” and suggested Ms Williams settle the debate by playing against men.

Whether Ms Williams will take him up on the challenge has yet to be seen. As she told Vanity Fair: “I don’t think my story is over yet.”

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