The coach of Serena Williams, Patrick Mouratoglou, has said "it doesn't make any sense" to compare male and female tennis players, following John McEnroe's controversial comments about the 23-time grand slam singles champion.
McEnroe caused a stir when he said of Williams in a radio interview: "If she played the men's circuit she'd be like 700 in the world."
Williams, who will not play again in 2017 as she prepares for the birth of her first child, hit back at her fellow American via Twitter, writing: "Dear John, I adore and respect you but please please keep me out of your statements that are not factually based."
In an exclusive interview with Omnisport, Mouratoglou said he did not see the value of McEnroe's comparison, which has prompted considerable debate.
Mouratoglou said: "First of all, I think it doesn't make any sense to compare men and women, otherwise I don't know why women are running 100 metres, because they're much slower than men. And is it not interesting? No, it is interesting; it's two different sports. And I think women's tennis is a different sport from men's tennis and both are very interesting for different reasons.
"I don't know why we should compare and I've always said that. Stop comparing. People who compare men and women, it's because they don't like women's tennis or they don't like women's 100 metres. It's their right not to like it, but don't try to have other people not interested in that.
"If we like women's tennis, we like women's tennis, that's it. Don't compare.
"Let's keep men and women separate. There is a men's tour and a women's tour; both are interesting; both are very different."
Asked if Williams would be fired up by McEnroe's comments, Mouratoglou suggested the 35-year-old already had significant motivation to compete at the highest level once again.
"I don't think that motivates her, because she's not going to try to prove that she plays better than 700. She's not going to try and show that," he added.
"Her tour is the women's tour. But if, as media, you write or you say that after being pregnant at 35 she has no chance to come back to the top, this would motivate her, so please feel free."
--- The Coach by Patrick Mouratoglou is now available through Wymer Publishing ---