Martina Navratil ova wrote an open letter yesterday slamming Margaret Court’s comments about same-sex marriage and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, recommending that tennis officials rename the arena that bears the Australian great’s name at Melbourne Park.
Court won a record 24 Grand Slam singles titles in the 1960s and 1970s and is now a Christian pastor. In a letter published in The West Australian newspaper last week, Court wrote that she would stop flying Qantas “where possible” because the Australian airline “has become an active promoter for same-sex marriage.”
The 74-year-old Court has been a homophobe for decades and she expanded on her comments in a Christian radio station interview this week, saying transgenderism was the work of the devil and compared a global plot to promote equal sexual rights to Hitler.
Navratilova’s letter addressed to “Dear Margaret Court Arena” was published in Australia, suggesting that sporting venues should be named for a person’s “whole body of work” and “who they are as human beings.”
“When you were named after Margaret Court, it seemed like the right thing to do,” former No 1 Navratilova wrote. “After all, Rod Laver already had the big stadium and Court is one of the all-time greats. 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.
“It is now clear exactly who Court is: an amazing tennis player, and a racist and a homophobe.
“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? This is not OK.
“Too many will die by suicide because of this kind of intolerance, this kind of bashing and, yes, this kind of bullying. This is not OK.” Navratilova said “we should not be celebrating this kind of behaviour” and recommended that the No 2 arena at the Australian Open be given a new name.
“I think the Evonne Goolagong Arena has a great ring to it,” Navratilova wrote, suggesting an alternative to Court.
Evonne Goolagong Cawley is a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion and an Aboriginal Australian.