Skip to main content

Home News News World

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova hits out at ‘racist homophobe’ Margaret Court in powerful open letter

Martina Navratilova has issued a blistering open letter urging the Margaret Court Arena to change its name in response to anti-LGBT+ comments made by Margaret Court.

By Ross Semple

Martina Navratilova has issued a blistering open letter urging the Margaret Court Arena to change its name in response to anti-LGBT+ comments made by Margaret Court. Court, who retired from professional tennis in 1977, holds the record for Grand Slam titles, with 24. She became a Pentecostal minister in the early 1990s and has since been a vocal critic of LGBT+ rights. Court has made a series of anti-LGBT+ comments over the last few days – stemming from a dispute with Qantas boss Alan Joyce. The airline boss is a strong advocate for equal marriage in Australia, and Court has announced that she will be boycotting the company because of his views. Among a litany of offensive comments, Court said that gay people are “after” Australia’s youth, as well as saying that women’s tennis is now full of lesbians. She also expressed revulsion for parents who support children who wish to explore their gender identity. “What confusion to a child. I get confused talking about it. You can think, ‘I’m a boy’, and it affects your emotions and feelings and everything else. That’s all the devil.” Navratilova, a nine-time Wimbledon champion and out lesbian, writes: “Sporting venues named for athletes, or any place, really, named for whoever, are so named for one reason. That reason is their whole body of work. In other words, it is not just for what this person did on the field, on the court, in politics, arts or science, for instance, but also for who they are as human beings.” The letter makes reference to previous bad blood between the pair. “I had long ago forgiven Court for her headline-grabbing comments in 1990 when she said I was a bad role model because I was a lesbian,” Navratilova writes. “It is now clear exactly who Court is: an amazing tennis player, and a racist and a homophobe,” the letter continues. “Her vitriol is not just an opinion. She is actively trying to keep LGBT people from getting equal rights (note to Court: we are human beings, too). She is demonising trans kids and trans adults everywhere. “And now, linking LGBT to Nazis, communists, the devil? This is not OK. This is in fact sick and it is dangerous. Kids will suffer more because of this continuous bashing and stigmatising of our LGBT community. “How much blood will be on Margaret’s hands because kids will continue to get beaten for being different?” Navratilova notes that Margaret Court’s public platform show be “made smaller, not bigger,” and argues for the Margaret Court Arena’s name to be changed. She even has an idea of a suitable replacement: “I think the Evonne Goolagong Arena has a great ring to it. Now there is a person we can all celebrate. On every level.” Navratilova’s letter also details racist comments allegedly made by Court in the 1970s – comments that have just recently been brought to Navratilova’s attention. Court is alleged to have said that South Africa “dealt with the ‘situation’ (meaning people of colour) much better than anywhere else in the world.” Andy Murray previously slammed Court’s statements during a post-match interview at the French Open earlier this week. “I don’t see why anyone has a problem with two people who love each other getting married,” Andy said following his first round win. “If it’s two men, two women, that’s great. I don’t see why it should matter. It’s not anyone else’s business. Everyone, in my opinion, should have the same rights.” More stories: Camp David: Britain’s Got Talent judge David Walliams on whether he’s ‘making fun’ of gay people Models slip into their briefs for Attitude’s Summer fashion shoot