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Martina Navratilova fires back at journalist who accused her of being a part of ‘anti-trans crusade’

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Tennis legend Martina Navratilova fired back at a reporter who labeled her “transphobic” on Friday as she campaigned with the Independent Women’s Forum as part of its “Take Back Title IX” initiative.

Ben Rothenberg, a tennis journalist who is now a podcast host and wrote a Naomi Osaka biography, offered his take on Navratilova’s involvement with the women’s organization after the group’s bus was vandalized in North Carolina.

“Martina Navratilova turning this anti-trans crusade into her life’s obsession in recent years remains dispiriting!” Rothenberg wrote. “And she turns it into way more transphobic vitriol than just discussing sports fairness, as I’ve covered before, just being nasty and cruel and dehumanizing. Boo.”

Navratilova responded later Friday night.

“Yet another man telling women what they should care about,” Navratilova wrote. “And who are you exactly? Oh yeah, the reporter who tells tennis players its off the record and then prints what they said anyway. Good to know you care about women’s sports and women’s sex based spaces. I care.”

Rothenberg responded to Navratilova.

“I’ve never done that. But I care also, about someone who was a beacon of freedom and inclusion in the sport I’ve covered sadly choosing to erode the platform she built with cyberbullying campaigns aimed at obscure, low-level amateur athletes. I wish you were better than that.”

Navratilova seemingly took issue with the assertion she was “cyberbullying.”

Martina Navratilova at Roland-Garros

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“Cyber bullying- wow. I am blocking you once and for all. For your information I am doing a whole lot more than just tweeting. You can just go away now. Hope I see your nasty self at Wimbledon- if you are there.”

Navratilova is a pioneer in the lesbian and gay community and in women’s tennis. She’s advocated for fairness in women’s sports amid the debate over transgender participation.

She applauded World Athletics last year for developing an open category for transgender athletes. She wrote in an op-ed it was a “step in the right direction.”

“In the wake of World Athletics’ announcement, I think the best idea would be to have ‘biological female’ and ‘biological girls’ categories and then an ‘open’ category,” she wrote. “It would be a category for all-comers: men who identify as men; women who identify as women; women who identify as men; men who identify as women; non-binary – it would be a catch-all. This is already being explored in athletics and swimming in Britain.

Martina Navratilova in Rome

“Biological females are most likely to compete in the biological female category, as that’s their best shot at winning and it maintains the principle of fairness. With an ‘open’ category there are no question marks, no provisos, no asterisks, no doubts. It’s a simple solution.

“Once somebody has gone through male puberty, there is no way to erase that physical advantage. You cannot simply turn back the clock, for instance by trying to lower testosterone levels.”

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