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Should Venus and Johnny Mac settle it on the court?

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PHILADELPHIA (Sports Network) - There had been recent rumblings that the legendary John McEnroe would take on women's superstar Venus Williams in another "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match.

I say let's make it a reality!

Obviously, a McEnroe-Williams showdown would stand to be a lot more competitive than tennis' original "Battle of the Sexes" -- the September 20, 1973 debacle between the great Billie Jean King, who was 29 at the time, and the has-been Bobby Riggs, who entered the ring at a spry 55 years of age. Of course, King prevailed against the near- senior citizen in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, 27 years ago at the Houston Astrodome. Riggs, who captured Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 1939, passed away in 1995.

At only 20 years of age, if Williams isn't already in her prime she's certainly heading towards it.

McEnroe, one of the greatest tennis performers of all-time, retired from the regular men's tour in 1992, but I'm guessing he's pretty sure he would beat the half-his-age Venus.

Johnny Mac endured some ridicule during the 2000 U.S. Open over the curious controversy between him and the Williams sisters.

In his famed New Yorker Magazine story, McEnroe said that certain college men or men on the seniors tour could beat the Williamses. But he also applauded the sisters for doing more to stir interest in the sport than anyone else.

After the New Yorker furor died down, Johnny Mac spoke out again, this time in a column for Britain's Sunday Telegraph. He criticized the sisters for their lack of humility and their lack of respect for fellow players.

For the time being, McEnroe, who currently stars on the men's senior tour and also serves as one of the best color analysts in all of sports, has no intention of playing Venus or Serena. But he does want it to be known that neither sibling is a gracious champion.

If such a match took place you'd have to like McEnroe to prevail. I mean, come on, even though Venus has roared to Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Olympic titles this season, she's also dropped matches against the likes of Amanda Coetzer, Jelena Dokic and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. Would a now-41-year-old McEnroe lose to Coetzer, Dokic or Sanchez- Vicario?

Extremely doubtful.

And Serena has lost matches against such tennis luminaries as Elena Likhovtseva and Paola Suarez this year. Would you like Mac's chances right now against Likhovtseva or Suarez?

Would anyone tune in for a McEnroe-Williams grudge match? Heck yeah!

But with the sport of tennis booming all over the world, such a battle is no longer required to put the game on the sports map, specifically the American sports map, as was the case with the King- Riggs circus in the '70s.

McEnroe certainly has nothing to prove at this stage of his life, while a Williams setback would only draw an inferiority complex to the women's game, one that's currently thriving thanks to the Williamses, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, and the not-as-talented but stunningly-attractive Anna Kournikova -- one of the most popular athletes on the planet, despite having yet to secure a championship of any kind.

It's no secret that McEnroe is less than a fan of the women's game...so maybe that's enough incentive for Venus to challenge Mac to a duel.

I happen to think that a well-past-his-prime Johnny Mac would still outlast the younger, and perhaps even stronger, Venus. Williams possesses a bigger serve as this stage of the game and may even be quicker around the court these days, but McEnroe, who turned tennis into performance art back in the day, still features every shot in the book and wouldn't allow himself to drop such an encounter.


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