'U.S. Gay Lobby Conspiring Against Me': Margaret Court Hits Back At Martina Navratilova

Margaret Court
Margaret Court at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club at Wimbledon, in London, on July 2, 2013. Court says there is a conspiracy against her. Dennis Grombkowski/Getty

The 24-time Grand Slam winner Margaret Court believes a "conspiracy" by the "U.S. gay lobby" is aiming to strip her name from one of the courts at Melbourne Park, home of the Australian Open.

Martina Navratilova, an 18-time major winner, renewed the call for renaming the Margaret Court Arena on Thursday after saying the Australian's comments were "racist and homophobic."

Speaking to a Christian radio station the day before, Court said "tennis is full of lesbians" and that she believes transgender children are the work of "the devil."

But Court believes the backlash to her comments is part of a conspiracy. "They have a lot of money behind them," the 74-year-old told 3AW radio. "I think I've won more Grand Slams than any man or woman, and if [the stadium] is [renamed], I don't believe I deserve it.

"They could probably get 100,000 petitions in 24 hours because that's how they work. There's a lot of money behind it, and it's coming from America."

Asked about a possible conspiracy, Court added: "Yes, I believe there is… I think the [gay] lobby, yeah."

Controversy surrounding the tennis great began in March, when she said she would boycott the Qantas airline "where possible" due to its support of same-sex marriage.

Navratilova responded to Court's comments through a letter in The Sydney Morning Herald. The Czech-American said she had forgiven Court for comments she made in 1990, when she said Navratilova was a bad role model due to her homosexuality. Navratilova added that she had been unaware of Court's remarks about the apartheid regime in South Africa.

"South Africa has the racial situation rather better organized than anyone else, certainly much better than the United States," the Australian said in 1970, according to the BBC.

"It is now clear exactly who Court is: an amazing tennis player, and a racist and a homophobe," Navratilova wrote. "Her vitriol is not just an opinion. She is actively trying to keep LGBT people from getting equal rights (note to Court: we are human beings, too). She is demonising trans kids and trans adults everywhere."

World No.1 Andy Murray also has criticized Court's comments and said an effort to change the name of the venue should be made in the lead-up to the next Australian Open in January.