Martina Navratilova apologises for Margaret Court protest, but ‘stands by’ reasons for it

Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilova has apologised – sort of – for her protest against the name of Margaret Court arena after a slap on the wrist from Tennis Australia.

The hall of famer commandeered an umpire’s chair and carried a banner, along with John McEnroe, saying ‘Evonne Goolagong Arena’ in the stadium that carries Court’s name at Melbourne Park on Tuesday.

It was a protest borne of Court’s controversial views against marriage equality and the trans community.

However, Tennis Australia released a statement criticising the ‘two high profile guests’ for breaching their security protocols, prompting Navratilova to respond.

“I got in trouble. I am sorry I broke protocol. I had no idea there was this kind of protocol,” Navratilova told the Tennis Channel.

“Had I known, I would have done it differently but I would still have tried to make my statement which is basically: you name buildings after not what people just did on the court but also off the court, the whole body of work.

“And so I said my piece. You can read my whole statement. I stand by that. But I do apologise about breaking protocol. I did not mean to do that.”

Navratilova’s original statement read: “When airports, buildings, streets or stadiums are named after particular people, it is done, or at least should be done, to honour exceptional human beings — our heroes.

“Think Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Billie Jean King, Rod Laver, Rosa Parks. Would it not be appropriate if the Staples Center were renamed as a tribute to Kobe Bryant

“Such luminaries excelled in their fields and transcended them; they made a positive contribution to mankind; they led by example. And, perhaps most of all, they were on the right side of history.

“But Margaret Court does not belong in that company or category. Nobody disputes her achievements on the tennis court, and her place in the sport’s history remains as distinguished as it gets.

“So, it pains me to say this but Margaret Court Arena must be renamed.

“As a worthy replacement, my vote goes to Evonne Goolagong. Evonne is the embodiment of what a role model or hero truly is.”

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