Serena Williams has thrown more than her fair share of temper tantrums over the years, with her vocal assault of a lineswoman during her loss to Kim Clijsters in the 2009 U.S. Open semifinals the most notorious.
But the man with most notoriety for his outbursts doesn’t think she been all that bad. Legendary bad boy John McEnroe, who still has a choice word or two for officials on the senior circuit, says that Williams’ on court demeanor is an improvement on his behavior.
“Serena’s way better than I am,” he told CNN. “There’s no comparison. I think she’s held herself and she’s needed to -- obviously being a woman and, second, being looked at closer because she’s black, so I think she’s got a couple strikes against her before she even starts. Compared to the overall package that I think she’s gone through and what she’s experienced, I think she should be cut some slack. It doesn’t excuse the time she got foot-faulted (at the 2009 U.S. Open), I think she would tell you she deserved to get faulted, but for the most part I think she’s done an extremely good job. I mean, certainly compared to me (laughs).”
McEnroe also stated that the sport becomes most attractive when it has bitter rivalries, which he believes it’s lacking for the most part these days. The New Yorker did get along with his rival Bjorn Borg, but he did not with his two other rivals, Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl.
“I didn’t get along with most of the players I played against, but the one guy I did get along with was my greatest rival, so it can be done. Nadal and Roger Federer have great respect for each other. I think Novak Djokovic gets under those two guys’ skin a little bit and maybe they don’t want to admit it and I think that’s in a way healthy. I think fans react to that more, if they sense there’s something extra there other than two great tennis players.”