“Dear John, I adore and respect you but please please keep me out of your statements that are not factually based,” Williams tweeted. “I’ve never played anyone ranked ‘there’ nor do I have time. Respect me and my privacy as I’m trying to have a baby. Good day sir.”
In an interview with NPR, McEnroe had said that while he believes Williams is the greatest female player ever, “if she played in the men’s circuit, she’d be like 700 in the world.”
But Williams is no stranger to firing back at critics. Over the years, she’s spoken out against people who have criticized everything from her body to her tennis playing.
She took on body-shamers with bikini pics
Williams shut down body shamers after her 2015 Wimbledon championship, posting pictures of herself on a Swedish beach on Instagram.
That same day, Williams posted an Instagram video of her getting her eyebrows shaped, responding to Internet trolls who had criticized her brows – adding that she still prefers her natural brows.
“Lol finally getting them shaped! Hahahha #haters I love you!!! Hahah but I still like them all natural! But for now you win lol,” she wrote in the post.
She made a reporter apologize for questioning her performance
Despite having the most Grand Slam wins of any individual since professionals and amateurs could compete together, Williams still had her tennis skills questioned by a reporter in January. But Williams would not let the reporter’s question slide.
After the reporter called her performance in a defeat against Lucie Safarova “scrappy” and full of errors. Williams hit back. “I think that’s a very negative thing to say,” she said.” Are you serious?”
The all-star tennis player asked if the reporter wanted to apologize, which he did.
Williams was not here for people telling her to smile
In a press conference after her 2015 U.S. Open win against her sister Venus Williams, a reporter asked why she wasn’t smiling. He ended his question by asking her, “What’s wrong?”
“It’s 11:30. I don’t, to be perfectly honest, want to be here,” Williams answered. “I just want to be in bed right now, and I have to wake up early to practice. And I don’t want to answer any of these questions, and you guys keep asking me the same questions. You’re not really making it super enjoyable.”
She capped off her candid answer with a shrug as other reporters laughed along with Williams’ brutally honest answer.
She literally chased down someone who tried to rob her
At one point, someone thought it would be a good idea to try and steal Williams’ phone. The tennis star proved very quickly that he was mistaken.
In November 2015, Williams posted on Facebook about how she chased down a man who took her phone while she was out at dinner. She recounted the entire event along with a photo of her in a Superwoman costume.
“I jumped up, weaved my way in and out of the cozy restaurant (leaping over a chair or two) and chased him down,” she wrote. “He began to run but I was too fast. (Those sprints came in handy) I was upon him in a flash!”
Williams also encouraged her fans to “always listen to [their] superhero inner voice.”
She took aim at everyone who looked down on her in her Sportsperson of the Year speech
When she was awarded the 2015 Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year award, her speech addressed people who have thought less of her for her body, race and gender.
“I’ve had people look down on me, put me down because I didn’t look like them — I look stronger,” Williams said at the time. “I’ve had people look past me because [of] the color of my skin, I’ve had people overlook me because I was a woman, I’ve had critics say I [would] never win another Grand Slam when I was only at number seven — and here I stand today with 21 Grand Slam titles, and I’m still going.”