Tennis Australia admonish McEnroe and Navratilova over protest

Tennis Australia have expressed their disappointment with two of the sport’s most legendary players after they protested against the naming of Margaret Court arena.

John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova played an exhibition match on Tuesday at the Australian Open, but after they finished they unfurled a banner that read “Evonne Goolagong Arena”.

Tennis Australia has regularly been criticised by  current and former players over their decision to name the second largest court in Melbourne after Margaret Court. Australian player Evonne Goolagong Cawley is regularly suggested as a more suitable recipient of the naming honour.

Court is a record holding player whose career peaked in the early 1970s, but since retirement from the game she has founded a pentecostal church in Perth, and has regularly spoken out against marriage equality, LGBTI rights, and transgender youth.

Earlier this week the sport’s governing body honoured the 50th anniversary of Court’s  Grand Slam, where she won all four major tournaments around the globe. While she was presented with a trophy, Court was not invited to give any acceptance speech.

Tennis Australia condemned the action taken by the two veteran players.

“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.

“Two high-profile guests have breached these protocols and we are working through this with them.”

Navratilova published an open letter on repeating her call for the venue to be renamed.

“When Margaret goes out of her way to single out a group of people and tell them they don’t deserve equal rights, that they are less than good parents, that they are not godly, that’s not merely free speech,” she said.

“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? For me, that person is Evonne Goolagong.” Navratilova said.

Earlier McEnroe released a video on this issue labelling Court as the game’s “crazy aunt”.

OIP Staff