During the second week of the Australian Open, Martina Navratilova published a letter on tennis.com expressing her opinion on why Margaret Court Arena should be renamed. She then protested on-site alongside compatriot John McEnroe with a banner showcasing her suggestion of replacing Court with Evonne Goolagong.
The protest, which came a day after Court was recognized by Tennis Australia for the 50th anniversary of her calendar Grand Slam and was later condemned by officials for breaking protocol, unsurprisingly didn’t sit well with the 24-time major singles champion.
"I think that was very, very wrong,” Court stated in an interview with Nine News Australia. "I’d never go to another nation, whatever I thought of a person, I would never say, ‘Hey, you should take their name off a building.'"
Court, who claimed she had always been on good terms with McEnroe, was disappointed her fellow Hall of Famer couldn’t separate "one part of life to another." The 77-year-old has been outspoken about her views on gay marriage for years, but has been widely criticized for certain remarks that have been deemed harmful to the LBGTQ community.
In a statement, organizers asserted they flew Court, her husband and 16 family members to spend two weeks at Melbourne Park, covering the cost of airfare, accommodation, breakfast, executive club access and event hospitality, which amounted to more than 100 tickets. But in watching her interview with Nine News, it’s clear Court believes her role in celebrating what she achieved on the court was severely diminished.
"They think because I’m a preacher I’m going to preach the gospel," she said after the event's ceremony saw Rod Laver present his countrywoman with a replica trophy but didn't involve a public address from Court. "From the tennis side they've pointed the finger at me and tried to discriminate in everything that I've done and I think that's very sad."
She closed by adding. "I walked around and people touched me on the shoulder and said ‘thank you for being my voice.’ I’ve never had one person come and say, ‘I hate you.’"