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John McEnroe throws down the gauntlet to Serena Williams for a challenge match

'I can beat her' says 56-year-old legend

John McEnroe has boasted he could beat women's world number one Serena Williams.

Tennis has seen previous matches dubbed Battle of the Sexes, most notably in 1973 when Billie Jean King, at the height of her career, defeated 55-year-old Bobby Riggs in Houston.

And when McEnroe, 56, was asked if he could beat Williams - who last night beat Italy's Karin Knapp 6-0 6-2 in the third round of the Cincinnati Masters - he expressed confidence.

McEnroe said: "I believe that I could still take her."

McEnroe recalled a previous offer to take on Williams, 33, who he rates as the greatest woman player of all time.

"Fifteen years ago Donald Trump, who seems to be in the news a little bit, he made an offer that I felt like was not enough," McEnroe said. "I think he was humouring us.

"Serena - she's got a lot to lose by losing to an old fart like myself.

"And I've got a lot to lose, because if I lose to, God forbid, a woman, then I'm not allowed in any men's locker room for the next 15 years, or possibly the end of my life.

"So that's part of why it's intriguing."

And McEnroe then raised the prospect of a big-money showdown - equating the interest it would generate to the year's big welterweight boxing bout between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

"So if they paid the kind of money that Mayweather and that other guy got ....," he said.

The three-time Wimbledon and four-time US Open champion added: "I don't think I could take her in the (boxing) ring."

Williams will complete a rare calendar Grand Slam if she wins the US Open next month.

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