29 January 2020

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova apologises for protocol breach over Margaret Court protest alongside John McEnroe at Australian Open but insists she 'stands by' the reason behind it

Martina Navratilova has publicly apologised for breaking Australian Open protocol with her protest for the Margaret Court Arena to be renamed, but insists she stands firm on the reasons for it.

The 63-year-old and John McEnroe, 60, walked onto the court brandishing a banner emblazoned with "Evonne Goolagong Arena" in a call to rename the Margaret Court Arena because of the Australian legend's controversial views on the LGBTIQ community.

The pair walked onto the court with the banner (Twitter: @yelnats_eel)

Navratilova also climbed onto the umpire's chair to make a speech following the game but was quickly cut off by the broadcaster.

She told The Tennis Channel: "I got in trouble. I am sorry. I broke protocol. I had no idea there was this kind of protocol.

"Had I known, I would have done it differently. I would have still tried to make my statement which is that you name buildings after not what people did on the court but also off the court, the whole body of work."

To conclude she added: "I said my piece. You can see my whole statement. I stand by that. But I apologise about breaking protocol. I did not need to do that."

Navratilova had said of Court: "Yes, we have free speech in a democracy, but that doesn’t mean that free speech doesn’t have consequences. 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. It’s hateful and hurtful speech and it’s injurious to countless vulnerable people.

Tennis Australia have not yet revealed how they will be disciplining the pair but have admitted they are investigating the protocol breach.

Their statement added that the tournament embraces "diversity, inclusion and the right for people to have a view, as well as their right to voice that view.

"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 the event," it read.

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