Real estate mogul Donald Trump has approached John McEnroe about a new, million-dollar Battle of the Sexes against one of the Williams sisters, according to a published report.
Trump has put $1 million on the table for a winner-take-all battle between 41-year-old legend McEnroe and either 20-year-old Wimbledon champion Venus Williams or 18-year-old Serena Williams, the defending U.S. Open champion, according to the New York Times.
The plan calls for the extravaganza to take place at Trump’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City.
“I wrote a letter to my dear friend John making him the offer,” Trump told the newspaper. “I have not heard back from him, but I think it would be a great event, great for the game, and very exciting.”
Johnny Mac’s Challenge
Richard Williams, father and coach of Venus and Serena, said in the newspaper story that his daughters would not be interested in any such challenge.
“I knew Richard was a smart guy and this only reinforces that fact,” McEnroe said Sunday night in a statement.
“Richard knows it’s best to keep his daughters away from Johnny Mac. (By the way) Trump’s offer was a good start,” added McEnroe.
Venus Focusing on Open
After reaching the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open on Sunday, Venus was asked about the Trump bid.
“Right now, I’m just really focusing on trying to win this U.S. Open more than anything, just have a good result here, just competing with women,” she said. “At some later date, I’ll be ready to think about competing with men. At this point, I’m ready to just play the Open.”
Earlier this week, Venus Williams shrugged off remarks made by McEnroe in a New Yorker magazine article about how men’s college players and senior tour players could beat the leading women’s players.
“I don’t know if I could fit him in my schedule right now,” she said. “I don’t think it’s fair to put a 20-year-old against a 40-something person. So I’ll let that pass.”
A Lesson From the Past?
It was only three years ago at the 1998 Australian Open that both sisters were busy proposing their own Battle of the Sexes, claiming they could beat a player from the men’s tour.
German 203rd-ranked Karsten Braasch, a heavy smoker in the twilight of his career, accepted the challenge of playing one set against the siblings.
Serena went down 6-1 to Braasch. Venus was able to get one more game but also lost, 6-2.
The first Battle of the Sexes took place between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs at the Houston Astrodome in 1973. A TV audience estimated at 90 million tuned in and saw King win.
Venus Williams remembered that match.
“I think that back in the ’70s, Billie Jean King did it the right way,” she said.
Another Battle of the Sexes was held in the early 1990s, with Jimmy Connors defeating Martina Navratilova in Las Vegas.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.