Piers Morgan rows with Gary Lineker and Andy Murray over Wimbledon comments

·6-min read
Piers Morgan's (centre) comments about Emma Raducanu provoked responses from Gary Lineker (left) and Andy Murray (right) - (BBC/ITV/Getty)
Piers Morgan's (centre) comments about Emma Raducanu provoked responses from Gary Lineker (left) and Andy Murray (right) - (BBC/ITV/Getty)

Piers Morgan has started a debate with Andy Murray, Gary Lineker and BBC Breakfast’s Dan Walker after defending John McEnroe’s comments on tennis player Emma Raducanu.

The former Good Morning Britain host found himself under fire from a team of celebs after backing up McEnroe’s belief that 18-year-old Raducanu withdrew from Wimbledon after “struggling to handle the pressure”.

Read more: 'BBC Breakfast' stars agree to golf 'grudge match' with 'GMB' rival Martin Lewis

Morgan stated the British player — who was seen hyperventilating on the court on Monday before her withdrawal from the competition — could “learn something” from the former champion.

“McEnroe told the truth,” he tweeted. “Ms Raducanu’s a talented player but couldn’t handle the pressure & quit when she was losing badly. Not ‘brave’, just a shame.

Britain's Emma Raducanu plays a return to /Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic during the women's singles fourth round match on day seven of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Monday, July 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Emma Raducanu playing Ajla Tomljanovic during the women's singles at Wimbledon Tennis Championships. (AP)

“If I were her, I’d tell my fans to stop abusing McEnroe, & seek his advice on how to toughen up & become a champion like he was.”

It is currently not known what caused Raducanu’s withdrawal beyond the initial symptoms seen at Wimbledon.

However, as the tweet was shared, comments descended into petty name-calling as followers compared Raducanu’s exit on medical grounds to Morgan’s walkout from GMB in March.

WATCH: John McEnroe claims Wimbledon 'got too much' for Emma Raducanu

Talking under the assumption that Raducanu may have suffered a panic attack, one fan asked Morgan if he had the same resilience when he dramatically stormed off set.

“I was wrong to walk off which is why I came back after 10 mins & finished the show,” he responded. “That’s what mental resilience is all about - overcoming temporary moments of weakness.

“Mental strength and resilience are not dirty words. They’re good things that need to be taught, nurtured, encouraged & celebrated from school onwards. This would be immeasurably easier if so many high profile people stopped playing the victim.”

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Rival breakfast presenter Walker then stepped in and said: “How would you have judged her if she’d stormed off in a big huff?”

Britain's Andy Murray returns the ball to Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili during the men's singles match on day one of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Monday June 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Andy Murray playes at Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

“Same way I judged you when you ‘quit’ Football Focus… oh wait, you were fired weren’t you! #awks,” Morgan responded, adding a winking emoji.

Lineker was next up, sharing a photo of the moment Morgan left GMB and saying: “Happens to the best of us, even those that aren’t suffering from a possible injury or illness.”

“Or just cr**ing oneself on the big stage, Jugs…” Morgan shot back.

“Yes, being on the big stage, crapping yourself or otherwise, is something you’ll never achieve,” Lineker continued, to which Morgan shared a photo of him winning a charity football match.

Read more: The 8 most memorable celebrity TV walk-offs

“Mate, we’ve won the exact same number of English League titles, World Cups & European Championships. Fact,” Morgan later added.

“This is lovely. It’s like the old days when you were on GMB,” said Walker as he commented again. “All we need now is for you to tell everyone to ‘stay at home’, shout at all those who don’t obey the rules in the middle of a global pandemic & then go on a family holiday to Antigua! Now that’s #awks”

Sports comemntator Gary Lineker is still the highest earning presenter at the BBC, with a salary of £1,750,000 – £1,754,999, the same as he earned last year. (Credit: PA)
Sports commentator Gary Lineker (PA)

Morgan defended his family trip, as it was in line with all government restrictions in place at the time.

Finally, tennis legend Andy Murray followed up the conversation, telling Morgan he felt it was a “very harsh take on the situation”.

When Morgan said he felt the reaction against McEnroe was “OTT” (over the top), Murray responded: “I think some of what he said was fair yes.. however the timing of it was a bit off considering nobody had any clue what her issue was injury/illness/breathings issues etc at the time of his comments.”

“He’d have said exactly the same to a young male player in same situation and nobody would have abused him for it,” Morgan retorted.

McEnroe unwittingly sparked the Twitter fight shortly after tennis player Raducanu needed medical attention on the court.

Former Football Focus host Dan Walker at the Sport Industry Awards in 2018
Former Football Focus host Dan Walker at the Sport Industry Awards in 2018

She was ultimately forced to withdraw from her last 16 match against Australian Ajla Tomljanovic after suffering 'difficulty breathing'.

“I feel bad for Emma, obviously,” McEnroe said on the BBC. “It appears it just got a little bit too much, as is understandable, particularly with what we’ve been talking about this over the last six weeks with Osaka not even here.

Read more: Wimbledon prize money 2021: How much will winners earn?

“How much can players handle? It makes you look at the guys that have been around and the girls for so long – how well they can handle it. Hopefully she’ll learn from this experience.”

Three-time champion McEnroe came under fire for his comments, including from Tomljanovic, who branded him ‘harsh’, Love Island star and A&E doctor Alex George, and a host of Raducanu’s fans.

Watch: Piers Morgan storms off 'Good Morning Britain' during furious clash with Alex Beresford