On Monday night, Court was presented with a full-size replica of the Australian Open trophy on court at Rod Laver Arena ahead of the blockbuster Nick Kyrgios-Rafael Nadal match as she posed for pictures in front of photographers.
Her presence on court followed a short documentary that was shown at the venue, which featured Court talking about her four wins in the calendar grand slam and a guest appearance from one of her fiercest rivals, Billie Jean King.
Navratilova and McEnroe, who at different times have criticised Court for her controversial views, have taken fresh swipes at the Australian tennis great. In a video published for EuroSport, McEnroe said Tennis Australia faced a dilemma with what do with their “crazy aunt” while Navratilova wrote a column on tennis.com where she said it “pains me to say” that Margaret Court Arena should be renamed.
Tennis Australia, however, admonished the pair for showing the banner on court, pointing out that there are regulations in place to “ensure the integrity of our event”.
“We embrace diversity, inclusion and the right for people to have a view, as well as their right to voice that view,” the statement read.
“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.”
In his video appearance before Court’s on-court presentation on Monday, McEnroe took aim at Court for her history of homophobic, racist and transphobic views.
“There’s only one thing longer than the list of Margaret Court’s tennis achievements,” said.
“It’s her list of offensive and homophobic statements.”
Navratilova wrote that Court was not on “the right side of history”.
“When airports, buildings, streets or stadiums are named after particular people, it is done, or at least should be done, to honour exceptional human beings — our heroes,” she wrote.
“Think Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Billie Jean King, Rod Laver, Rosa Parks. Would it not be appropriate if the Staples Center were renamed as a tribute to Kobe Bryant?
“Such luminaries excelled in their fields and transcended them; they made a positive contribution to mankind; they led by example. And, perhaps most of all, they were on the right side of history.
“But Margaret Court does not belong in that company or category. Nobody disputes her achievements on the tennis court, and her place in the sport’s history remains as distinguished as it gets.
“So, it pains me to say this, but Margaret Court Arena must be renamed.
“As a worthy replacement, my vote goes to Evonne Goolagong. Evonne is the embodiment of what a role model or hero truly is.”
Margaret Court has been contacted for comment.
Scott Spits is a sports reporter for The Age