Australian Open 2020: Martina Navratilova apologises for protocol breach, not for protest to rename Margaret Court Arena

Navratilova has regularly objected to Margaret Court Arena being named to honor the Australian tennis great who has become a religious minister and made controversial comments about homosexuality and gay-marriage.

The Associated Press January 29, 2020 14:46:15 IST
Australian Open 2020: Martina Navratilova apologises for protocol breach, not for protest to rename Margaret Court Arena
  • Navratilova and John McEnroe tried to take their push to have the stadium renamed Evonne Goolagong Arena, in honor of Australia's seven-time Grand Slam titlist, to the people.

  • Navratilova climbed up the umpire's chair at the stadium on Tuesday and started to address spectators, but organizers cut off the live feed.

  • Navratilova and McEnroe then unfurled a banner reading “Evonne Goolagong Arena" as they walked on the court.

Melbourne: Martina Navratilova has apologised after getting caught on a technicality in her on-court campaign to have a stadium renamed at the Australian Open.

The 18-time major winner didn't step back from the key message, though. Navratilova has regularly objected to Margaret Court Arena being named to honor the Australian tennis great who has become a religious minister and made controversial comments about homosexuality and gay-marriage.

Australian Open 2020 Martina Navratilova apologises for protocol breach not for protest to rename Margaret Court Arena

File image of former Australian Open champion Margaret Court. AP

Navratilova and John McEnroe tried to take their push to have the stadium renamed Evonne Goolagong Arena, in honor of Australia's seven-time Grand Slam titlist, to the people. Navratilova climbed up the umpire's chair at the stadium on Tuesday and started to address spectators, but organizers cut off the live feed. Navratilova and McEnroe then unfurled a banner reading “Evonne Goolagong Arena" as they walked on the court.

It could have cost the pair their credentials. Navratilova and McEnroe are working as TV analysts at Melbourne Park, and were made aware of the terms and conditions of their accreditation.

Without naming them by name, Australian Open organizers issued a statement in response to the protest that said while they embraced diversity, they still had regulations and protocols to ensure the integrity of the tournament and “two high-profile guests have breached these protocols."

Navratilova apologized Wednesday on the Tennis Channel, saying “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," she added. "But I would still have tried to make 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’ve said my piece. I do apologize for breaking control. Did not mean to do that.”

McEnroe issued an apology via ESPN for breaking protocol.

“Admittedly, I was never one to study the rule book carefully or for that matter, even at times abide by the rules," he said. “In this case, I was not aware of the Tennis Australia rules and protocols for issuing credentials. For that I apologize to Tennis Australia."

Court won a record 24 major singles titles, and had the 50th anniversary of her calendar-year Grand Slam recognized when she received a trophy on Rod Laver Arena this week.

McEnroe's brother, Patrick, is also an ESPN commentator and said this on the broadcast Wednesday: "Sometimes, to make a statement, rules of protocol might have to be bended just a bit."

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