Martina Navratilova wants the Margaret Court Arena renamed

Court's comments about gay athletes continues to be controversial

BY Daniel Kelly 09:02 Thursday 1 June 2017, 9:02 1 Jun 2017

Picture by: Arnold Drapkin/Zuma Press/PA Images

Martina Navratilova has called Margaret Court "an amazing tennis player, and a racist and a homophobe".

In an open letter to the Sydney Morning Herald, Navratilova has called on the owners of the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne to rename the venue. It is one of the two show-courts that is used at the Australian Open.

"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", Navratilova wrote.

"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 open letter was written in the aftermath of Court claiming that tennis was "full of lesbians". Last month, the 24-time Grand Slam champion (who is now a Christian pastor) claimed she would boycott flying with Australian airline Qantas over their support of same-sex marriage.

Margaret Court

Navratilova is one of the most famous tennis players of all time. In 2014, she married her long-term partner Julia Lemigova, and remains one of the most vocal supporters of LGBT equality in sport.

"[Court's] vitriol is not just an opinion", Navratilova said in her letter. "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."

"We celebrate free speech, but that doesn't mean it is free of consequences - not punishment, but consequences."

Navratilova has said she would love to see the Margaret Court Arena renamed in honour of Evonne Goolagong. An Aboriginal tennis player, Goolagong is in the Tennis Hall of Fame, having won seven Grand Slams in her career.

Off The Ball

Newsletter

The very best bits of Off The Ball delivered every week