Tennis legends Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe are in a spot of bother after they staged a protest on Margaret Court Arena, against Margaret Court.
On Monday night, Court – vehemently against marriage equality and the trans community – celebrated her 50th anniversary of her calendar grand slam at the Australian Open. She was given a full-size replica of the Australian Open trophy, presented by Rod Laver. Court posed for pictures and watched a montage of her career achievement.
The next day, on Margaret Court Arena, Navratilova and McEnroe responded to the celebration with a banner which read, “Evonne Goolagong Arena” in rainbow colours.
Goolagong is a former world #1 tennis player, four-time Australian Open champion, holder of 120 career titles, and has a singles record of 704-165. It was recently announced that Goolagong will be the focus of a new mini-series and a stage play, both currently in production. Since retiring from the sport in 1983, she has focused her time and energy into giving Indigenous children the opportunity to be the best they can be.
Martina #Navratilova makes a statement about changing the name of #MargaretCourt Arena after her legends doubles match on that court. Tennis Australia cuts off the feed to @Eurosport. Let’s share her message here.#AusOpen #AusOpen2020 #LGBT pic.twitter.com/ZdI92ZS6Za
— Kevin Chang 🌏⚖️ (@KevinCChang) January 28, 2020
Both legends of the game have spoken out against Court in the past. On Monday, Navratilova published an open letter on tennis.com, asking for Margaret Court Arena to be renamed.
“Nobody disputes her achievements on the tennis court, and her place in the sport’s history remains as distinguished as it gets,” she wrote, but believes the arena should be renamed after someone “on the right side of history.”
Putting forward Goolagong’s name, Navratilova wrote, “Why not pick someone whom every child can look up to and want to emulate – a champion who inspires and motivates young and old to do their best and be their best every day?”
Speaking on his Commissioner of Tennis series, McEnroe full on called Court a “nightmare” for Tennis Australia.
“You can’t separate a person from their achievements,” he said.
“Serena [Williams], do me a favour. Get two more grand slams this year and get to 25, so we can leave Margaret Court and her offensive views in the past, where they both belong.”
In a statement released on Tuesday night, Tennis Australia said it was looking into the protest.
“We embrace diversity, inclusion and the right for people to have a view, as well as their right to voice that view,” Tennis Australia said.
“But the Australian Open has regulations and protocols with respect to how any fan, player or guest can use our facility, the event and the global stage it provides. This is to ensure the integrity of our event.”
Tennis Australia said Navratilova and McEnroe, “two high-profile guests”, have breached these protocols.
“We are working through this with them.”
It’s not yet clear what punishment the pair will cop, if any.