Navratilova urges renaming of Margaret Court Arena

Martina Navratilova has written an open letter criticizing Margaret Court's comments about same-sex marriage and the LGBT community, and recommending that tennis officials rename the arena that bears the Australian. "We should not be celebrating this kind of behavior", writes Navratilova, who accuses Court of making life harder for LGBT youth.

"The platform people like Margaret Court use needs to be made smaller, not bigger", she said.

But Mrs Court, 74, has taken another swipe at Perth's Casey Dellacqua, saying she won 24 grand slams but Dellacqua had not won any.

Navratilova, 60, branded the comments sick and unsafe and said the Melbourne court should be renamed after another Australian great, Evonne Goolagong Cawley. Saying that South Africa dealt with the "situation" (meaning people of colour) much better than anywhere else in the world, particularly the United States: "what exactly did she mean by that?"

Navratilova, who came out as a lesbian after she was outed as bisexual in the 1980s, wrote an open letter urging the city of Melbourne to change the name of its Court Arena. Though the Czech-American said she had forgiven Court for the earlier offense, Navratilova stated that she can not stand for the false stereotypes Court is continuing to promote in the media. "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". "How much blood will be on Margaret's hands because kids will continue to get beaten for being different", she asked. 2011 U.S. Open victor Sam Stosur, said, "I think everyone can have their opinion".

Court's comments have caused consternation within the tennis community.

But it is ludicrous for Court to compare education on gay issues to the mind control techniques of the regime of Nazi despot Adolf Hitler. Navratilova, who's won 18 Grand Slam titles, wants the arena renamed, saying facilities should be named for both an athlete's accomplishments and "for who they are as human beings".

This week she told Vision Christian Radio station that an Australian programme tackling homophobic bullying in schools was the work of a "gay lobby" that was trying to "get [into] the minds of children".

Mrs Court dismissed suggestions of racism, pointing out she had played tennis with Evonne Goolagong Cawley in South Africa. "You can think "Oh, I'm a boy" and it'll affect your emotions and feelings, and everything else and so that's all the devil".

In 1990, Court said Navratilova was a poor role model for young tennis players because of her homosexuality.

"Too many will die by suicide because of this kind of intolerance, this kind of bashing and yes, this kind of bullying".

Can you celebrate the professional success of a person if you personally disagree with some of her beliefs?

"You know, if it's two men, two women, that's great".

However, Ms McGregor said Court's name shouldn't be removed from the stadium titled in her honour.

  • Julie Sanders