Navratilova and McEnroe apologise for breaking Aussie Open protocol

‘I am sorry I broke protocol… had I known I would have done it differently’: Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe apologise for on-court protest about the naming of Margaret Court Arena… but Navratilova stands by message

  • Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe sorry for breaking protocol on Tuesday
  • Margaret Court has been widely criticised for her very public opposition to gay marriage and her inflammatory statements on LGBTIQ issues 
  • Navratilova climbed into the umpire’s chair and began to speak about the issue 
  • Navratilova and John McEnroe showed banner saying ‘Evonne Goolagong Arena’

Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe have both apologised for their on-court protest about the naming of Margaret Court Arena, after being rapped over the knuckles by Tennis Australia 

After playing in a legends’ match on Tuesday, Navratilova climbed into the umpire’s chair and began to speak about the issue.

The TV feed was abruptly cut but Navratilova and John McEnroe then paraded a banner made by her reading ‘Evonne Goolagong Arena’, the name they would like the stadium to adopt.

 Martina Navratilova (above) and John McEnroe have both apologised for their on-court protest

McEnroe and Navratilova showed banner calling for Margaret Court Arena to be renamed

Court has been widely criticised for her very public opposition to gay marriage and her inflammatory statements on LGBTIQ issues, while Goolagong is a seven-time former Grand Slam singles champion and a trailblazer for Aboriginal tennis.

Navratilova’s actions were met with a stern rebuke from Australian Open organisers, who said in a statement: ‘We embrace 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 our event.

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

Speaking on Tennis Channel, for whom she is working during the tournament, Navratilova said: ‘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.

Navratilova and McEnroe feel the arena should be renamed after Goolagong (pictured)

‘But I would still have tried and made my statement, which is basically you name buildings after not what people just did on the court but also off the court, the whole body of work.

‘I said my piece. You can read my whole statement, I stand by that, but I do apologise for breaking protocol. I did not mean to do that.’

McEnroe also pleaded ignorance about the credential regulations, saying in a statement clearly designed to appease tournament organisers: ‘I was not aware of the Tennis Australia rules and protocol for issuing credentials. 

‘For that I apologise to Tennis Australia and recognise and appreciate the great job they have done to make the Australian Open a great event for the fans, players and myself.’ 

Court was recognised with a short ceremony on Rod Laver Arena on Monday to mark the 50th anniversary of her calendar Grand Slam.

It went off without incident bar the waving of a handful of rainbow flags. Court was presented with a replica trophy by Laver but was not given a microphone to address the crowd herself.

Court was recognised with a short ceremony on Monday but has been widely criticised for her very public opposition to gay marriage and her inflammatory statements on LGBTIQ issues

 

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