N E W Y O R K, Sept. 5, 2000 -- Real estate mogul Donald Trump hasapproached John McEnroe about a new, million-dollar Battle ofthe 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 Wimbledonchampion 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 atTrump’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City.
“I wrote a letter to my dear friend John making him theoffer,” Trump told the newspaper. “I have not heard back fromhim, 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 beinterested in any such challenge.
“I knew Richard was a smart guy and this only reinforcesthat fact,” McEnroe said Sunday night in a statement.
“Richard knows it’s best to keep his daughters away fromJohnny Mac. (By the way) Trump’s offer was a good start,” addedMcEnroe.
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, justcompeting with women,” she said. “At some later date, I’ll beready to think about competing with men. At this point, I’m readyto just play the Open.”
Earlier this week, Venus Williams shrugged off remarks madeby McEnroe in a New Yorker magazine article about how men’scollege players and senior tour players could beat the leadingwomen’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 againsta 40-something person. So I’ll let that pass.”
A Lesson From the Past?
It was only three years ago at the 1998 Australian Openthat both sisters were busy proposing their own Battle of theSexes, claiming they could beat a player from the men’s tour.
German 203rd-ranked Karsten Braasch, a heavy smoker in thetwilight of his career, accepted the challenge of playing oneset against the siblings.
Serena went down 6-1 to Braasch. Venus was able to get onemore game but also lost, 6-2.
The first Battle of the Sexes took place between Billie JeanKing and Bobby Riggs at the Houston Astrodome in 1973. A TVaudience 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 theright 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.