An inconvenient truth

"Scandal" has rocked the tennis world this week when John McEnroe mentioned that shaved monkey Serena Williams would be ranked far down the rankings if the ATA and WTA were to merge rankings.

Serena, true to form, went primitive and illogical by demanding her "privacy" during pregnancy leave, because that's totally how major sporting etiquette works...you can make millions on endorsements and become world famous but cannot be "exposed" to criticism once you are taking a leave of absence. She demanded McEnroe "respect her and her privacy" as if he was standing in her front yard with a megaphone rather than simply talking about her in response to a question about her in an interview.

Others are upset with McEnroe for the politically incorrect thing that he said. But as Mark Steyn says...

Political correctness involves not being able to state the obvious, not being able to see the obvious, and sport is all about the obvious. Sport is all about someone who is objectively stronger, objectively faster than you. And that's why sport more than anything else has to be subordinated to these progressive pieties and made to deny the obvious.
And let's not kid ourselves: we can quibble about where in the men's rankings Serena would place, but it would almost certainly be somewhere in the hundreds. Because men are bigger and stronger than women. You can take a peek at the fastest tennis serves and notice that several players, most recently Dominic Thiem in the Gerry Weber Open, have hit serves of 144 miles per hour. The fastest women's serve is 131 miles per hour, while the fastest men's serve is 163 miles per hour. Serena's serve has never broke 129 miles per hour.

So in the one easily measurable quality, and one which flatters Serena Williams, she is clearly far down the list of combined-sex tennis players. So what would happen in a game? I can speak with a little bit of authority here: I've been playing a lot of tennis over the past couple of years and one of the regular players I play against is a woman. She has been involved in a few Edmonton tennis tournaments and finished top 5 in a couple of them. She is actually a ranked Canadian tennis player. Watching her games as a spectator against other women tennis players I have seen her win more than she loses and have often been impressed with her skill.

And I've never once lost to her.

Okay it's not like I win every bout between us 6-0, 6-0, 6-0. I've lost sets to her before, but never two in a row. I've lost sets to one of the other women I've played as well, but usually I lose a set 6-4, and I often win sets 6-4 or 6-2. In a heads up battle between a woman who is pretty good and me, I fare extremely well. If you watch me playing her on the courts sometimes you might think I'm really an impressive player. I'm always in position and my feet barely move while I make her cover all four corners of the court. My serves are often returned into the net, her volleys fly over my head and go long. My ground game in particular might blow you away.

And then you watch me play male players and you'll notice that I'm regularly the second best player on the court. Playing men is often my humbling experience: even matches that I win can make me look much more ordinary a player: he gets a good bounce and he wins, I get a good bounce and I win. My feet are definitely moving a lot more when I play men: suddenly even when I can make him run around covering all four corners he's usually doing something similar to me. I've almost never beaten a male player in straight sets (typically it's when he's new or hungover) and I've been beaten in straight sets (sometimes but not always hungover). Playing the women is good for the ego: playing the men is good for improving myself as a tennis player. I can play men two decades older than me and end the game drenched in sweat and often muttering "congratulations" as we shake hands at the end. Men are just better than women at tennis. We're bigger, stronger, and faster. Even a good female player is outclassed by some random blogger.

Can I beat Serena Williams? Of course not. The top ranked male tennis player in Edmonton probably can't beat her. But the top ranked male tennis player in Canada obviously can [though only if she's ranked 700th, apparently, since 698 gives him trouble... -ed]. The top ranked tennis player in larger cities like Vancouver or Houston or Madrid could certainly beat her. She's the winningest woman player in the world, but male tennis players that you and I have never heard of would defeat her.

So let's not pretend that John McEnroe has said some evil thing. He has said an absolutely true thing. That he is being vilified for it is just another example that the politically incorrect thing he said was, as it so often is, politically incorrect.