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Archive for Thursday, August 31, 2000

McEnroe challenges Williams sisters

August 31, 2000

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— John McEnroe has all but challenged the Williams sisters to a grudge match.

In New Yorker magazine, the tennis legend is quoted as saying, "Any good college male player could beat the Williams sisters, and so could any man on the Senior Tour."

The ensuing flak is reminiscent of 1973, when Bobby Riggs faced Billy Jean King in the "Battle of the Sexes." Then 55, Riggs lost 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 to King, 26 years his junior.

Third-seeded Venus Williams, 20, entertained questions on the subject Wednesday after she defeated Kveta Hrdlickova 6-1, 6-1 to advance into the third round at the U.S. Open. Told McEnroe, 41, was interested in seeing the proceeds of a victory over her or younger sister Serena go to charity, the elder Williams did not dismiss partaking in another "Battle of the Sexes."

Told of McEnroe's remarks on Tuesday, defending U.S. Open champion Serena Williams playfully shot back "You want a piece of me?"

"Obviously, men are stronger than women," Serena said, following her first-round win Tuesday. "McEnroe can throw down if he wants. I don't know. Who knows? It's interesting."

A prime-time event against McEnroe could make one of the Williams sisters even more rich. Twenty-seven years ago, King collected a $100,000 winner-take-all check for defeating Riggs. Staged at the Astrodome, the crowd of 30,472 was the largest ever for a tennis match and upward of 50 million more watched the prime-time event on TV.

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