It doesn't matter if John McEnroe or any man could beat Serena Williams. Here's why.

John McEnroe's decree that Serena Williams would "be like 700 in the world," on the men's tennis circuit predictably set the internet on fire.

The former seven-time Grand Slam champion told NPR in a June 25 interview that while he thinks Williams is an incredible player, it would be "an entirely different story," if she had to compete against men.

Photo by Greg Wood/Getty Images.


Whether McEnroe is right or wrong, many saw the comment from the famously loose cannon as unfairly dismissive of one of the most dominant athletes of her generation.

We're all human; we all say misguided things from time to time. Growing and learning and owning up to mistakes are all a part of running on this crazy hamster wheel we call life and so on and so forth.

Unfortunately, last night, when Stephen Colbert tried to give McEnroe an out, he ... didn't exactly take it.

When pressed by "The Late Show" host, the former world #1 doubled down on his assertion that Williams would have a hard time beating most men.

McEnroe unequivocally credited Williams for being the "best thing that's happened to American tennis in the last 15 years" and praised her as "one of the greatest athletes of the last 100 years."

Unfortunately, he also said some other things:

"Do they say that about girl basketball players? That they're as good as Michael Jordan?"

"My girls don't think I could beat her now. I thought I could beat her. She's pregnant, so maybe I should play her now."

If you've ever wondered what getting about 80% of the way to an apology before spinning around and slamming a deep corner shot to that apology's backhand looks like, now you know.

Athletes are competitive, and no one wants to willingly relinquish the title of "greatest," especially not a notoriously prideful player like McEnroe.

Photo by Rob Taggart/Getty Images.

As an all-time great tennis player, McEnroe has certainly earned the right to consider himself a member of the sport's elite. And his comments likely resonate, in part, because people actually want to know what would happen if Williams went head-to-head with the top men of her era.

I'm curious. You're probably curious. No doubt McEnroe himself is curious.

But to dismiss William's claim to greatest-of-all-time status on the basis of her gender is particularly gross.

Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images.

It's true that women are, on average, smaller than men. But sports — particularly individual sports like tennis — have always categorized players by physical stature.

Take boxing. Floyd Mayweather and Evander Holyfield are both among the greatest fighters of all time. Mayweather presently competes as a welterweight. Holyfield, however, is a former heavyweight champion. If they fought each other in their primes, Mayweather would probably dance around Holyfield for about 30 seconds, at which point Holyfield would punch Mayweather full on in in the face and Mayweather would die.

It is self-evident that Mayweather would get creamed (though I'm sure Mayweather would insist otherwise). That's why boxing has weight classes in the first place.

And yet, there's little public debate about that scenario, likely because they're both men who dominate in their respective rings. It's simply accepted that their innate physical differences prevent them from engaging in a fair fight.

Meanwhile, former male tennis greats and fans can't stop asserting Williams' inferiority.

Williams is by far the most dominant player of her era — perhaps any era.

She has exceeded her opponents in wins, points, championships, you name it. That's where her greatness lies. Beating or losing to a bunch of men wouldn't change that.

Would Serena Williams succeed on the men's circuit? It's possible she wouldn't. But McEnroe truly has no idea. Like everyone else, he's speculating.

McEnroe on the court in 1982. Photo via Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Such speculation from a figurehead of the sport sends a poor message to young girls and women involved in tennis.

It's the message that tells aspiring female players that "you can be good, but all the biggest trophies are reserved for boys." A message that suggests their abilities and strengths as a tennis player are somehow considered less than because of their gender.

McEnroe is entitled to his opinion, but Williams' accomplishments speak for themselves.

Grand Slam singles titles: 23.

Doubles titles: 14.

Four Olympic gold medals.

Over $80 million in prize money.

Any athlete, male or female, would envy a G.O.A.T.-worthy stat line like that, as they should also envy Williams' record of leadership on and off the court.

Such towering achievement might, understandably, make a woman uninterested in dwelling on hypotheticals.

How would Williams fare against the top men in tennis today? We'll probably never know.

And that's a good thing.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

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4 minutes of silence can boost your empathy for others. Watch as refugees try it out.

We could all benefit from breaking down some of the walls in our lives.

Images via Amnesty Poland

This article originally appeared on 05.26.16


You'd be hard-pressed to find a place on Earth with more wall-based symbolism than Berlin, Germany.

But there, in the heart of Germany's capital city, strangers sat across from one another, staring into each other's eyes. To the uninitiated, it may look as though you've witnessed some sort of icy standoff. The truth, however, couldn't be more different.

This was about tearing down walls between people.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."