A couple days ago, John McEnroe said that Serena Williams would be about 700 in the world on the ATP World Tour. In response, Serena tweeted, “Dear John, I adore and respect you but please please keep me out of your statements that are not factually based.” Serena was clearly rattled by McEnroe’s statement to come out like she did, and it seems as if Williams thinks much more highly of herself than that of what McEnroe believes. The number 701 men’s player in the world, Dimitry Tursonov, chimed into the conversation saying, “I would hope that I would win against Serena.”
I completely disagree with McEnroe, but probably not for the reasons that you might expect. I believe she would be much lower ranked on the men’s circuit rather than higher. Using Universal Tennis Rating’s ranking system, Serena Williams is not higher ranked than any of the players in the world who have an ATP ranking. Even the #2074 (the lowest ranking on the tour) player, Aziz Ouakaa, has a higher UTR than Williams. Ouakaa is a 13.38 and Serena is a 13.31 (the highest female UTR).
This is the only way to look at males and females on the same ranking system, and obviously, there are going to be flaws in comparing males to females as most of the time tennis events are split up by gender, but for the most part UTR is a very good indicator of the level of play across all ages and whether someone is male or female.
Going back to the question of where would Serena Williams be ranked on the ATP World Tour, most people without much knowledge of tennis may say anywhere from top 500 in the world to maybe even top 25. I believe those rankings would be a gross over exaggeration of Serena’s level of tennis.
I think she would have much trouble getting one ATP point. She would have to go through multiple rounds of qualifying just to get into the main draw in a future (the lowest level professional tournament) which has many players of around or above her level, so she would not qualify many times. Furthermore, in order to receive a point in a $15k, Williams would have to reach the round of 16. There are so many players who have the same UTR or higher who are unable to do this, so if she did win 1 point, it would be an amazing accomplishment.
In my opinion, Serena Williams would have a decent chance of achieving an ATP ranking, but anything much more than that would be more of a dream for her and not very achievable. But, before you start telling me that I am disrespecting Williams, I would like to point out that I believe she is the greatest female tennis player of all-time and possibly the greatest female athlete of all-time.