In the wake of Margaret Court's repeated and hateful commentary on the LGBTQ community, a fellow tennis legend has penned an open letter excoriating the all-time leader in major victories. Court publicly stated she would no longer use the Australian airline Qantas because of its CEO's support for same sex marriage, and in further support of that position went on to accuse lesbian tennis players of trying to lure younger players to parties to turn them into lesbians. She also compared the LGBTQ community to Nazis, communists, and the devil.
Navratilova had already called for renaming the Australian Open venue, but now she has written an open letter in the Sydney Morning Herald detailing exactly why. In short, she writes, Margaret Court is "an amazing tennis player, and a racist and a homophobe." Navratilova unearthed quotes from 1970, published in the New Zealand Herald, in which Court praised South Africa's policy of apartheid. Reproduced in the book Arthur Ashe: Tennis and Justice in the Civil Rights Era by Eric Allen Hall, the quote reads:
"I love South Africa," she told the New Zealand Herald. "I have many friends there. Of course, I will keep going to play. It is a tragedy that politics has come into sport—but if you ask me, South Africa has the racial situation rather better organised than anyone else, certainly much better than the United States."
Navratilova notes that she has long since forgiven Court for attacking her and calling her a bad influence because of her sexuality, but argues that due to these recent statements, Court's platform to spread hateful rhetoric should be reduced, not increased. And renaming the arena is the first step.
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.
We celebrate free speech, but that doesn't mean it is free of consequences—not punishment, but consequences.
The Czech great even has a suggestion for a new name: Evonne Goolagong Arena, named after 14-time Grand Slam winner and Australian Aboriginal Evonne Goolagong Cawley.
This post was corrected to reflect that Martina Navratilova is Czech.