Navratilova’s remarks came in response to a question from a Twitter follower who asked her about transgender women in sport.
“Clearly that can’t be right. You can’t just proclaim yourself a female and be able to compete against women,” the nine-time Wimbledon champion wrote. “There must be some standards, and having a penis and competing as a woman would not fit that standard.”
The 62-year-old who is widely regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time triggered an uproar on social media with transgender community branding her comments as “bullying” and “discriminatory.”
As soon as she posted her message angry responses and calls to apologize flooded Navratilova’s twitter account, forcing her to delete the initial post.
Canadian transgender cyclist Rachel McKinnon was among the most outspoken critics who said that the tennis legend should be “accountable for public transphobic comments” made against people of alternate birth gender.
…wow. Martina, engaging with you and holding you accountable for your public transphobic comments is not ‘bullying,’ and is not ‘nasty.’ I hope you see your way to regretting how you’ve handled this.
— Dr. Rachel McKinnon (@rachelvmckinnon) December 21, 2018
Navratilova’s opinion on the topic came as a shock to many, as being an open lesbian herself the tennis star has always been a LGBT rights campaigner.
Following an avalanche of criticism the former tennis great apologized for her tweet promising to “educate herself on this issue.”
I am sorry if I said anything anywhere near transphobic- certainly I meant no harm – I will educate myself better on this issue but meantime I will be quiet about it. Thank you
— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) December 21, 2018
Some social media users however expressed support for Navratilova suggesting she was forced to deliver an apology after being “intimidated from telling the truth.”
You’re the real hero here Martina. The truth is painful to some, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be spoken. These bullies need to sit and reflect. Having a different opinion doesn’t make someone “phobic”. Let’s discuss this rationally, not shame people into backing down.
— Jon Seidman (@sideybgood) December 22, 2018
It’s incredibly disappointing that you’ve been intimidated into backing down from telling the truth.
— Wings Over Scotland (@WingsScotland) December 21, 2018
Please do not stay silent. As a Female Hero in sport girls and women need you.
— Angie O’Brien (@Angelique43) December 21, 2018