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News > World

Court Is 'a Racist and a Homophobe:' Tennis Legend Navratilova

  • Martina Navratilova waves to supporters.

    Martina Navratilova waves to supporters. | Photo: Reuters

Published 1 June 2017

Court became associated with pentecostalism in the 1970s. She later founded the Margaret Court Ministries and in this capacity, has been a vocal critic of LGBTQ rights.

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova responded Thursday to Australian tennis star Margaret Court's homophobic comments, accusing her of demonizing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

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"It is now clear exactly who Court is: an amazing tennis player, and a racist and a homophobe," Navratilova wrote in an open letter published by Fairfax Media.

"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. 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 stigmatizing of our LGBT community," Navratilova said.

Czech-born Navratilova, who came out as a lesbian in the 1980s and married Julia Lemigova in 2014, said she had forgiven the Australian for calling her a bad role model in the 1990s "because I was a lesbian."

Court became associated with Pentecostalism in the 1970s. She later founded the Margaret Court Ministries and in this capacity, has been a vocal critic of LGBTQ rights.

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"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."

Court's views triggered speculation that some players might refuse to play in the Melbourne Park arena that bears her name at next year's Australian Open. An online petition calling for the stadium to be renamed has already received the support of over 6,000 people.

"The platform people like Margaret Court use needs to be made smaller, not bigger," Navratilova said, addressing the arena, while adding that another Australian great should be recognized instead.

"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."

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