Not so long ago, John McEnroe fluffed up a sitter. A radio interviewer put the ball in his court, and Mac missed terribly.
The question was where in his view Serena Williams ranked among the greatest tennis players. That looked like an easy, no-pace shot down the middle. She is, replied Mac, unquestionably the greatest female player in history.
He thought he had won the point, but the interviewer thought otherwise. What do you mean, the greatest female player? he asked. Why not the greatest player of all time?
Now, Mac is nothing if not politically correct – in general. But that subject wasn’t general. It was specific, and it concerned his life’s work.
“Whoa,” he said, holding his open palms in front of his chest. “That’s a different story.” Clearly, Mac’s feet weren’t set properly, because his next shot missed by a mile. “If she played on the men’s tour, she wouldn’t get into the top 700,” he said, watching the shanked ball sailing out of the studio.
The interviewer and his other guests were aghast. So were the thousands of irate tennis fans who later wrote to complain and protest. How could he say that?!? He knows nothing about tennis, and even less about life!
At roughly the same time, a challenge of the sexes was being mooted between Serena and Andy Murray, who wasn’t yet crocked. However, when a question about that possibility was put to Serena at another chat show, she just laughed.
“Are you kidding?” she said. “I’m not going to play Murray. I don’t want to be embarrassed. He’d beat me love and love in 10 minutes flat. I’m happy playing the girls, it’s a totally different sport.”
Both McEnroe and Williams know all there is to know about tennis. But one doesn’t have to be a world-class player to realise they are right. Anyone who has ever wielded a tennis racquet in anger is aware that men and women play a different game.
The men are faster, stronger, more athletic, more technically accomplished, more tactically astute and so forth. It’s the same in all sports.
Since I don’t follow women’s football, I don’t have a clue who is regarded as the best female player of all time. But whoever she is, how would she compare to Maradona or Messi? I bet the same way as Serena compares to Federer, Djokovic, Nadal or, well, McEnroe.
Mac and Serena spoke the truth, but it was a mundane, physical truth residing in the realm of facts. There exists a higher, metaphysical truth that soars high above facts, reaching the stratosphere of ideology.
And in that rarefied medium it’s impossible even to consider the possibility that men can be by definition better than women at anything. As a certain Eton teacher will confirm, anyone daring to suggest that had better be prepared to collect unemployment benefits. Virtual reality exists, and it trumps the actual kind every time.
Any psychiatrist will tell you that mental divorce from actual reality is a clinical symptom of schizophrenia, and this progressive disease is indeed besetting our progressive people.
Their fevered minds create a warped picture of life, wherein men and women are the same, the Earth has never been warm before, comprehensive education educates, sex and race are a matter of personal choice, the NHS is the envy of the world, and Richard Dawkins is a serious thinker.
In the past, schizophrenics were hospitalised, treated and kept in isolation until their disease was in remission. Now they set the tone of public discourse, and the state is ever ready to support them with the full weight of its laws.
If the disease progresses, as it surely will, what will happen to us all? Oh well, that doesn’t bear thinking about. Tennis, anyone?