Seven-time tennis grand-slam champion John McEnroe has been making the headlines again this week, following his comments about World No. 1 Andy Murray coming in a ‘distant fourth’ in his era of tennis. McEnroe highlighted Murray’s grand-slam winnings only equalled a quarter of Novak Djokovic’s, a fifth of Rafael Nadal’s and just one sixth of Roger Federer’s. A little harsh, but is there any truth in it?
Serena Williams is the latest player to feel the wrath of the American tennis pro turned commentator, with McEnroe commenting Serena would only be ranked 700th if she played the men’s circuit. You cannot be serious? Sadly, it’s true.
McEnroe is renowned for his ‘opinionated’ comments on and off the court, but what’s to be gained from such pointed statements? He didn’t face a high amount of criticism, so how does he get away with it?
Interestingly, the players used different channels to respond to McEnroe’s comments. Murray only issued a statement to media and didn’t signpost on social channels, whereas Serena issued two tweets in response. The first one was mild but the second one was more targeted: https://bit.ly/21pIszo
The responses from Serena were evidently well received by her 8.62 million Twitter followers, game set and match you would think. But astonishingly McEnroe has more followers than both of the players combined, with 17.1 million (Murray only has 3.7 million). It begs the question, what makes him more interesting to follow? Comedy. He apologised to Serena over Twitter, but his tongue in cheek tone is still clear to see: https://bit.ly/2rY2Kkc
Using comedy in responses can sometimes be a risky move, but McEnroe’s self-mocking posts appear to keep him on the right side of the line. With Wimbledon around the corner, there will undoubtedly be more curve balls flying around, so keep your eyes peeled!
Ellie Wagstaff, senior account executive @mucklemedia