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Martina Navratilova Calls Fellow Tennis Great Margaret Court a ‘Homophobe’

Martina Navratilova has written an open letter criticizing Margaret Court's comments about same-sex marriage and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and recommending that tennis officials rename the arena that bears the Australian great's name at Melbourne Park.

Court won a record 24 Grand Slam singles titles in the 1960s and 1970s and is now a Christian pastor. In a letter published in The West Australian newspaper last week, Court wrote that she would stop flying Qantas "where possible" because the Australian airline "has become an active promoter for same-sex marriage."

The 74-year-old Court has been a critic of homosexuality for decades, and she expanded her comments in a Christian radio station interview this week.

Image: FILES-TENNIS-AUS-HOMOSEXUALITY-COURT-NAVRATILOVA
(FILES) This file photo taken on November 26, 2015 shows former US tennis player Martina Navratilova taking part in a mixed doubles exhibition match during the Tennis Masters Hyderabad. Noah Seelam / AFP - Getty Images

On Thursday, Navratilova's letter addressed to "Dear Margaret Court Arena" and published by Fairfax Media newspapers in Australia, suggested that sporting venues should be named for a person's "whole body of work" and "who they are as human beings."

"When you were named after Margaret Court, it seemed like the right thing to do," former No. 1-ranked Navratilova wrote. "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."

"It is now clear exactly who Court is: an amazing tennis player, 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 demonizing trans kids and trans adults everywhere."

Image: Margaret Court
In this Jan. 26, 2015 photo, Australian tennis great Margaret Court smiles during the official launch of the remodeled Margaret Court Arena at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne. Vincent Thian / AP

Navratilova said "we should not be celebrating this kind of behavior" and recommended that the No. 2 arena at the Australian Open be given a new name.

"I think the Evonne Goolagong Arena has a great ring to it," Navratilova wrote, suggesting an alternative to Court. "Now there is a person we can all celebrate. On every level."

Goolagong Cawley is a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion and an Aboriginal Australian.

At the French Open earlier this week, Andy Murray was among some players who rejected Court's comments about same-sex marriage. There were suggestions that players could boycott Margaret Court Arena at the Australian Open next January.

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"I don't see why anyone has a problem with two people who love each other getting married. If it's two men, two women, that's great. I don't see why it should matter. It's not anyone else's business," the No. 1-ranked Murray said.

Sam Stosur, an Australian who won the 2011 U.S. Open, said: "I think everyone can have their opinion. I don't agree with it. But I guess we'll cross that bridge when we all get down to the Australian Open next year — and who wants to play on Margaret Court Arena and who doesn't. And we'll go from there."

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