Basmah Qazi

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Tennis greats back-pedal in the wake of Margaret Court protest

Tennis greats back-pedal in the wake of Margaret Court protest

Tennis greats Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe have apologised for a breach of “protocol” at the Australian Open after being taken to task by tournament organisers for an on-court protest against Margaret Court.

The two former tennis stars demanded for Court’s name to be taken off the second showcourt at Melbourne Park on Tuesday and be replaced by Australia’s former world number on Evonne Goolagong.

Margaret, who holds the all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles, has been heavily criticised for voicing her religious-based views on same-sex marriage and transgender athletes.

But despite it all, Tennis Australia criticised Navratilova and McEnroe’s protest at Margaret Court Arena as a breach of protocol.

“I got in trouble, I am sorry I broke protocol,” said 18-times Grand Slam champion Navratilova, who is openly gay on Wednesday.

“I had no idea there was this kind of protocol. Had I known, I would have done it differently. But I would still have tried to make my statement, which is that you name buildings after not what people just did on the court, but also off the court, the whole body of work.

“So I’ve said my piece … but I do apologise about breaking protocol. I did not need to do that.”

McEnroe also revealed that he wasn’t aware of the rules surrounding Tennis Australia.

“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 a statement.

“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.”

Margaret was honoured in a small ceremony which was held at Rod Laver Arena on Monday marking the 50th anniversary of her 1970 calendar Grand Slam.