MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Martina Navratilova has written an open letter criticizing Margaret Court’s comments about same-sex marriage and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. She is 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.”
On Thursday, Navratilova’s letter addressed to “Dear Margaret Court Arena” and published by Fairfax Media newspapers in Australia, suggested 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-ranked 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 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 demonizing trans kids and trans adults everywhere.”
Navratilova said “we should not be celebrating this kind of behavior” 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. “Now there is a person we can all celebrate. On every level.”
Goolagong Cawley is a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion and an Aboriginal Australian.
At the French Open earlier this week, Andy Murray was among some players who rejected Court’s comments about same-sex marriage. There were suggestions that players could boycott Margaret Court Arena at the Australian Open next January.
Sam Stosur, an Australian who won the 2011 U.S. Open, said: “I think everyone can have their opinion. I don’t agree with it. But I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we all get down to the Australian Open next year — and who wants to play on Margaret Court Arena and who doesn’t. And we’ll go from there.”