Things were going along smoothly; perhaps the interview would be completed without “it” happening.
Then “it” happened.
John McEnroe was asked to elaborate on his 2-year-old comments that he could call a men’s tennis match better than a woman - Mary Carillo in particular - could. He also threw in that Carillo could call a woman’s match better than he could.
McEnroe, Carillo and Martina Navratilova will be working the U.S Open for CBS Sports for two weeks starting Monday, with McEnroe also teaming with Tracy Austin, Virginia Wade and Barry MacKay for USA network coverage.
The tournament necessitated the interview last week that led to “it. It” being the argument about gender and tennis broadcasting that refuses to die even though the combatants seem to be getting a little bored with “it.”
“This whole thing has been twisted in a wicked way,” said McEnroe, who emphasized that even two years ago he wasn’t claiming that men can call tennis better, period. “If we sat back and look at where we were and where we are now, we should be damn proud that we have this chance. That’s the way I’m going to look at it.”
Carillo added, “What John just said makes perfect sense to me. We’ll be fine. I’m a grown-up and everything.”
Too bad the same can’t be said for the guys who keep asking McEnroe to speak on a 2-year-old faux pas.
Even so, at some point McEnroe can’t help himself. Perhaps he was having flashback to when some umpire challenged him on a line call.
“I think I know more about men’s tennis than Mary does and that’s the bottom line. If that’s the issue, let’s ask her point blank.”
Perhaps, attempting to douse any potential spark with humor, Navratilova shot back with a wisecrack.
“And I think I know more about women’s tennis than Mary,” she said. “Let’s get rid of Mary. We don’t need her.”
Both McEnroe and Navratilova have enough Grand Slam trophies to incite jealousy, but Carillo didn’t fall for it.
“I’m not the champion either one of my comrades, my associates, here are and I’ve never claimed to be a tennis champion,” Carillo explained. “If you’re asking me do I feel like I’m an expert broadcaster? Yeah. That’s what I’m being judged on.”
Then McEnroe made sure he had made himself crystal clear.
“If you want to be blunt about it, I know more about men’s tennis than either Martina or Mary. Martina knows more about women’s tennis than I do and so does Mary.”
By this point of the interview, you sort of got the feeling that Navratilova, Carillo and McEnroe knew in advance somebody would ask about “it” and they proceeded to have fun with reporters.
If not, CBS’s broadcast booth should be very interesting for the next two weeks.
USA network airs coverage from 8 a.m to 1 p.m. and 4:30 to 8 p.m. PDT Monday through Friday.
CBS takes over days from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 2 and 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 3-4. USA will continue its 4:30-8 p.m. schedule through the Labor Day weekend.
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