Gary Lineker responded with a withering put-down after Piers Morgan voiced his support for John McEnroe’s controversial criticism of Emma Raducanu.
British wildcard Raducanu won the nation’s hearts by reaching the last 16 of Wimbledon at the tender age of 18.
She gave a good account of herself but fell short in the first set against Australian Ajla Tomljanovic on Court One on Monday night.
Raducanu then retired following a medical break midway through the second set, with Wimbledon later saying she was suffering from “difficulty breathing”.
While many were sympathetic to the teenager, McEnroe was less forgiving in his comments after the walkover was confirmed.
“It appears it got a bit too much which is understandable, particularly what we’ve been talking about this last six weeks with [Naomi] Osaka,” the three-time Wimbledon champion told BBC Sport .
“How much can players handle? It makes you look at the guys who have been around, and the girls, how well they can handle it.
“People say: ‘You were so bad on the court, you used to misbehave’. But yes, I was the norm. These guys who can keep their composure, and the girls out there, are amazing.
“We have to appreciate the players who are able to do it so well and hopefully she will learn from her experience.”
McEnroe received plenty of backlash for his comments, including from Tomljanovic herself, who described the American’s remarks as “harsh”.
But the 62-year-old was backed up by Piers Morgan, who took to Twitter to write: “McEnroe told the truth.
“Ms Raducuna’s a talented player but couldn’t handle the pressure & quit when she was losing badly. Not ‘brave’, just a shame.
Do you side with Piers Morgan or Gary Lineker? Comment below.
“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.”
Lineker – who is no stranger to a social-media spat with Morgan – issued a fiery response to the former Good Morning Britain host, reminding him of how he walked out of the ITV show before leaving his role.
“Happens to the best of us, even those that aren’t suffering from a possible injury or illness,” said Lineker as he quoted Morgan’s tweet about Raducanu retiring.
Morgan hit back with a tweet of his own, writing: “Or just c****** oneself on the big stage, Jugs.”
But the former England striker was ready with a comeback, saying: “Yes, being on the big stage, crapping yourself or otherwise, is something you’ll never achieve.”
Morgan then posted a picture posing with the Soccer Aid shield, to which Lineker responded: “Take it all back. You won a charity match. Well played.”