TENNIS legend Martina Navratilova has canned Margaret Court for “actually hurting people” with her controversial views on the night the Australian’s achievements in the sport were honoured.
Court, who is the most prolific winner of major singles titles with 24, was acknowledged on the 50-year anniversary of her 1970 season grand slam ahead of the fourth-round showdown between Nick Kyrgios and Rafael Nadal.
As a fundamentalist Christian her public views have been highly homophobic and at times racist.
It left many wondering how Court would be received during the Monday night ceremony, but she received warm applause after being acknowledged by fellow Australian tennis legend Rod Laver in the arena.
She opted against making a speech and there was a rainbow flag seen flying the crowd.
Court has opposed same sex marriage, condemned transgender athletes and said LGBT school lessons are “of the devil”.
Navratilova, who is openly gay, said Court needed to keep her opinions to herself.
“It’s just unfortunate because I think what Margaret Court doesn’t realise is how many people she hurts with her rhetoric,” Navratilova told AAP said on Monday.
“She can believe whatever she wants but she’s actually hurting people and that’s not OK.”
Former men’s champion John McEnroe has also blasted Tennis Australia for celebrating Court’s achievements.
TA denounced her outspoken views in a press release before the Open started, saying they “have demeaned and hurt many in our community over a number of years”.
McEnroe said they should have done more.
Speaking on Eurosport, McEnroe described the 77-year-old as a “crazy aunt”.
“There’s only one thing longer than a list of Margaret Court’s tennis achievements – it’s her list of offensive and homophobic statements,” McEnroe said.
“Tennis Australia is facing a dilemma – what do they do with their crazy aunt?
“Its solution? We will recognise what she did in 1970 but we won’t celebrate the person.
“Huh? It doesn’t work that way. You can’t separate the person from her achievements.”
Former world No.1 Serena Williams, who was eliminated in round three, remains one major behind Court and McEnroe pleaded with her to surpass the Australian.
“Serena (Williams), please win two more slams and pass Margaret Court so we can leave Margaret Court in the past, where she belongs.”