Linking LGBT to Nazis, the devil? This is not OK: Navratilova slams tennis great
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Linking LGBT to Nazis, the devil? This is not OK: Navratilova slams tennis great

Martina Navratilova has described Margaret Court as “a racist and a homophobe” and wants her name removed at Melbourne Park.

tennis Updated: Jul 01, 2017 11:46 IST
Martina navratilova,Margaret Court,tennis
(L-R) Kim Clijsters, Martina Navratilova, Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, Chris Evert and Margaret Court pose at the Legends Lunch during at Melbourne Park on January 30, 2016 in Melbourne. (Getty Images)

Former world number one Martina Navratilova has called for Margaret Court Arena to be renamed after penning an open letter in outrage of the 24-time grand slam champion’s views on same-sex marriage.

Margaret Court angered the gay and lesbian community after controversially saying she would not fly with Australian airline Qantas due to its support of same-sex marriage.

The 74-year-old Australian – a Christian pastor – caused further uproar when she said “tennis is full of lesbians”, sparking backlash from countrywoman Casey Dellacqua.

Now 18-time major winner Martina Navratilova, who is openly gay, has described Court as “a racist and a homophobe” and wants her name off one of the Australian Open’s flagship stadiums at Melbourne Park.

In a letter published by the Sydney Morning Herald, Navratilova wrote: “Dear Margaret Court Arena,

“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.

“When you were named after Margaret Court, it seemed like the right thing to do. 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.

“What I did not know about until now were the unabashed racist statements she made in the ‘70s about apartheid in South Africa. Saying that South Africa dealt with the “situation” [meaning people of colour] much better than anywhere else in the world, particularly the US: what exactly did she mean by that?

“Fast forward to today and Court’s announcement of her boycott of Qantas because of its chief executive’s support of same-sex marriage, which basically means support for the LGBT community in general. That was bad enough. Now she is doubling down with her ridiculous comments about older women luring young girls on the tour to parties to turn them into lesbians. It’s a good thing she didn’t name anyone as I am pretty sure she would be sued for defamation.

“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.

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

“We should not be celebrating this kind of behaviour, this kind of philosophy. The platform people like Margaret Court use needs to be made smaller, not bigger.

“Which is why I think it’s time to change your name. And I think the Evonne Goolagong Arena has a great ring to it. Now there is a person we can all celebrate. On every level.

“Yours, Martina Navratilova.”

First Published: Jun 01, 2017 14:14 IST