Two tennis players who dominated their sport in their respective heyday, Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova, both champions of women’s equality in relation to men’s tennis, hold completely opposing positions on including transgender athletes in women’s competitions.
Navratilova opposes it even more strongly than King.
As lesbians, King and Navratilova both engaged in major duels with men: King defeated Bobby Riggs, Wimbledon champion of 1939, in 1973 in an exhibition match; and in 1992, Navratilova faced Jimmy Connors with modified rules in her favor, and won by the American tennis player.
In spite of having allied together in the past, they now represent the open fracture in feminist and LGTBI collectives.
Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King’s views on transgender inclusion in sport?
In addition to other organizations, Billie Jean King is a member of Athlete Ally, which promotes the inclusion of transgender athletes.
In a recent social media post, she expressed her satisfaction with the US Federal Court of Appeals ruling which validated Connecticut’s policy allowing transgender students to be part of teams corresponding to their gender identity.
Last year, Lia Thomas became a collegiate champion in the 500-yard freestyle, beating out US Olympians.
“Trans youth deserve the opportunity to play and thrive,” said the winner of 12 individual Grand Slams between 1961 and 1980.
Martina Navratilova, however, was not on the same page.
Navratilova, who opposes transgender athletes competing in the women’s category, said, “Inclusion at the cost of exclusion is not inclusion.”
No one is banning trans people from competing – they just need to compete in the biological category instead of the self-identification category.”
Either one day there will be three categories or two: one open to everyone and one for biological women only. But they are allowed to compete now.”