Martina Navratilova apologises for breaking protocol with Australian Open protest

Martina Navratilova has apologised for breaking Australian Open protocol by staging a protest calling for the name of Margaret Court Arena to be changed.

After playing in a legends' match on Tuesday, Navratilova climbed into the umpire's chair and began to speak about the issue.

The TV feed was abruptly cut but Navratilova and John McEnroe then paraded a banner made by her reading 'Evonne Goolagong Arena', the name they would like the stadium to adopt.

Court has been widely criticised for her very public opposition to gay marriage and her inflammatory statements on LGBTIQ issues, while Goolagong is a seven-time former grand slam singles champion and a trailblazer for Aboriginal tennis.

Navratilova's actions were met with a stern rebuke from Australian Open organisers, who said in a statement: "We embrace diversity, inclusion and the right for people to have a view, as well as their right to voice that view.

"But the Australian Open has regulations and protocols with respect to how any fan, player or guest can use our facility, the event and the global stage it provides. This is to ensure the integrity of our event.

"Two high-profile guests have breached these protocols and we are working through this with them."

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Martina Navratilova
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Martina Navratilova
Martina Navratilova sings along with Sir Cliff Richard on Centre Court this afternoon (Wednesday) as rain stopped play in the men's quarter finals. Photo by Adam Butler/PA.
Chris Evert (l) and Martina Navratilova (r) hold the ladies' doubles trophy aloft after beating Billie Jean King and Betty Stove in the final
Czechoslovakia's Martina Navratilova appeals to the umpire over a line call she thought was in, during the quarter-final match against Britain's Sue Barker on Court One at Wimbledon. Miss Navratilova went on to win the match 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.
Martina Navratilova holds the Ladies' Singles Trophy aloft after beating Chris Evert
Czech-born American Tennis star Martina Navratilova, about to play at Surbiton.
Martina Navratilova celebrates with the trophy after her straight sets win
Martina Navratilova
The two finalists, Martina Navratilova (l) and Chris Evert Lloyd (r), pose together at the net before the final
Martina Navratilova hold up the trophy after beating fellow American Chris Evert Lloyd 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.
Martina Navratilova in action
Martina Navratilova holds the trophy aloft after winning the ladies' singles for the fifth time
Martina Navratilova congratulating Steffi Graf after she won the Wimbledon final
Martina Navratilova celebrates with the Ladies' Singles trophy after winning the title for the ninth time in her career
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA AND MARK WOODFORDE HOLD UP THEIR WIMBLEDON MIXED DOUBLES TROPHY ON CENTRE COURT. IT IS MISS NAVRATILOVA'S 18TH WIMBLEDON TITLE.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA BLOWS A KISS OF FAREWELL TO THE CENTRE COURT AFTER LOSING HER LAST EVER LADIES SINGLES FINAL.
THE PRINCESS OF WALES ACKNOWLEDGES THE CROWD'S APPLAUSE AS SHE ARRIVES ON CENTRE COURT WITH HER SON , PRINCE WILLIAM, FOR THE LADIES SINGLES FINAL BETWEEN CONCHITA MARTINEZ AND MARTINA NAVRATILOVA.
The Princess of Wales and her son Princess William applaud Conchita Martinez and Martina Navratilova after the Womens' Singles Final at Wimbledon, London.
NO COMMERCIAL USE: Former Wimbledon Champions Jana Novotna (left) and Martina Navratilova talk during the Champions Parade at Wimbledon.
NO COMMERCIAL USE: Former Wimbledon champions Martina Navratilova (left) and Chris Evert share a joke during the Champions Parade at Wimbledon.
NO COMMERCIAL USE: Martina Navratilova (r) and doubles partner Arantxa Sanchez Vicario chat during a break in their match against Casoni and Nacuk in the 2001 Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon.
Martina Navratilova (r) is presented with her trophy by The Duke of Edinburgh (l) afterr winning in the mixed doubles final
Former Tennis player and Wimbledon Champion Martina Navratilova with her Lifetime Achievement Award at the 50th Sports Personality of the Year awards presentation at the BBC Centre, London.
British Tennis player Tim Henman kisses Martina Navratilov on arriving at the 50th Sports Personality of the Year awards presentation at the BBC Centre, London.
Martina Navratilova (left) and Rula Lenska during The All England Lawn Tennis Championship at Wimbledon.
Sunderland Chairman Niall Quinn (right) and former Women's Tennis Champion Martina Navratilova in the stands
Sir Richard Branson and Martina Navratilova watch the womens final between Venus and Serena Williams
Martina Navratilova greets Queen Elizabeth II as she attends the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships on Day 4 at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London.
Stephen Fry with Martina Navratilova (right) in the Royal Box on day day Ten of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon.
The Duchess of Cambridge speaks with ex tennis players Kim Clijsters (second from right) and Martina Navratilova (right) on day one of the Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon.
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Speaking on Tennis Channel, for whom she is working during the tournament, Navratilova said: "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.

"But I would still have tried and made 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 said my piece. You can read my whole statement, I stand by that, but I do apologise for breaking protocol. I did not mean to do that."

Court was recognised with a short ceremony on Rod Laver Arena on Monday to mark the 50th anniversary of her calendar Grand Slam.

It went off without incident bar the waving of a handful of rainbow flags. Court was presented with a replica trophy by Laver but was not given a microphone to address the crowd herself.

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