tennis players are calling on Margaret Court Arena to change its name to distance themselves from the former Australian star's views.
Martina Navratilova, a former Czech and American player and coach and an open lesbian herself, wrote an open letter to the arena on Thursday morning in the Sydney Morning Herald. In the letter, Navratilova put forth that a person's body of work, including their personality, should be considered along with their achievements when they're being honored.
Navratilova has a history with Court. In the letter she says that at the time the arena was named she 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." Navratilova said she would have had a harder time coming to terms with Court's comments on apartheid in the 70s had she known about them, when Court said that "South Africa dealt with the 'situation' (meaning people of colour) much better than anywhere else in the world; particularly the US."
Navratilova went on to say that "It is now clear exactly who Court is: an amazing tennis player, and a racist and a homophobe."
She also scoffed at Court's assertion that the LGBT community is linked to Nazis and the devil, and she went after Court's "ridiculous comments" about how older tour members would lure impressionable young members to parties to become lesbians.
Finally, Navratilova defended Court's right to say what she believes, but not her ability to say it without repercussions. "We celebrate free speech," Navratilova wrote. "But that doesn't mean it is free of consequences - not punishment, but consequences."
With players already threatening to boycott the arena if something isn't done about the name of it, this letter may be the first of many. The National Tennis Centre at Melbourne Park, where Margaret Court Arena is located, has already distanced itself from the comments, but may find it harder and harder to stand its ground as these statements continue to crop up and they get closer to January, when the Australian Open is set to begin.