Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King

Lesbian tennis icons Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King have responded to Australian tennis veteran Margaret Court’s homophobic rant against same-sex marriage.

Court is a former world number one who played in the sixties and seventies and is still considered by many to be the greatest-ever female tennis player.

Now an evangelical pastor, Court last week railed against moves towards legalising same-sex marriage in Australia.

“No amount of legislation or political point-scoring can ever take out of the human heart the knowledge that in the beginning God created them male and female and provided each with a unique sexual function to bring forth new life,” she told The West Australian.

“To dismantle this sole definition of marriage and try to legitimise what God calls abominable sexual practices that include sodomy, reveals our ignorance as to the ills that come when society is forced to accept law that violates their very own God-given nature of what is right and what is wrong,” Court said.

Margaret Court

In response to the statements, Navratilova and King both criticised Court for her views.

“Seems to me a lot of people have evolved as has the Bible, [for example regarding] slavery. Unfortunately, Margaret Court has not. Her myopic view is truly frightening as well as damaging to the thousands of children already living in same gender families,” said Navratilova, who came out in 1981.

King, who was outed in the same year, commented to the Sweet Spot: “I respectfully disagree with Margaret’s position on gay marriage. We have to commit to eliminating homophobia because everyone is entitled to the same rights, opportunities and protection. The more we talk openly about issues like gay marriage, the more we learn about each other.”

Navratilova said that she had tried to talk to Court about the issue without success. “To say she’s completely close-minded on the issue is an understatement. Here is hoping Australia will be on the right side of history and human rights, and become yet another democracy granting equal rights to all her citizens.”

Court has long been a vocal opponent of gay and lesbian equality. In 1990 she said that Navratilova and other lesbian players were ruining tennis and setting a bad example for young players.

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