British women stand up for Serena in tennis battle of sexes


British Wimbledon hopefuls Naomi Broady and Laura Robson have backed Serena Williams in the row over whether women tennis players could compete with the men's game.

They stood up for the former world number one and winner of 23 Grand Slams after John McEnroe said she would rank around 700 if placed against men.

Broady and Robson, both given wildcards for the upcoming tennis tournament, said comparing the men's and women's game in such a way was unfair.

Broady said: "I think the men's and women's game is just so different now and it's almost like comparing apples with oranges.

"It's basically a different sport in itself. Serena's one of the all time greatest athletes ever, regardless of men and women, and I think most men will agree with that.

"You can't compare Serena to Federer the same as you can't compare Ronaldo to Federer."

Robson said: "I don't think there's any point in comparing the two, it makes no sense to me why he (McEnroe) brought it up in the first place."

Both players spoke at the Women's Tennis Association pre-Wimbledon party in central London.

They joined a host of other stars, including Garbine Muguruza, Victoria Azarenka and Elina Svitolina at The Roof Gardens in Kensington.

With Williams pregnant, this year's Championships is seen as an open playing field, but both Broady and Robson backed the same player to do well - Petra Kvitova.

Kvitova, who recently won the Aegon Classic in Birmingham, has only just returned to the game after a six-month hiatus.

In late 2016, the Czech player was the victim of a robbery as she was attacked by a knife-wielding assailant in her home, leading to surgery on her hand.

Attending the party, she said: "I am calling this a second career. I am really grateful that I am still here to live the moment."

Broady, 27, whose best performance at Wimbledon was to reach the second round in 2014, said she was "so grateful" to the All England Club for granting her a wildcard.

She said she was excited to play for the home crowd, adding: "I was more nervous about doing the red carpet tonight, or the purple carpet I should say, than I am actually going in to play Wimbledon."

Robson, who won the Wimbledon Junior Girls' Championship at 14 but has been plagued by injury as a senior player, said she too felt confident and ready to play at a home slam.

Fellow British players Johanna Konta and Heather Watson did not attend the party, one of the most famous events of the tennis calendar, as they are still competing at the Eastbourne International competition.