Navratilova sparks transgender fury: ‘Having a penis and competing as a woman is not on’

The former Wimbledon champion said “having a penis and competing as a woman” is just not acceptable in the sporting world as she called for “standards” to be introduced to prevent women being challenged by men in games. She identifies as lesbian and in 2014 proposed to her girlfriend Julia Lemigova at the US Open and the pair tied the knot later that year. The 62-year-old, who became the first tennis player in history to become no.1 in the world for both singles and doubles for over 200 weeks, posted a tweet on Friday in response to a question from a follower about transgender women in the sporting world.

She said: “Clearly that can’t be right. 

“You can’t just proclaim yourself a female and be able to compete against women. 

“There must be some standards, and having a penis and competing as a woman would not fit that standard.

“For me it’s all about fairness. Which means taking every case individually… there is no cooking cutter way of doing things.”

But after receiving a backlash from Twitter users, the Czech-born athlete deleted her tweet last night. 

Among those who seized on her comments was Dr Rachel McKinnon, who was born a male and became the first transgender woman to win a track world title. 

Dr McKinnon demanded an apology from Ms Navratilova and called her “transphobic” and challenged her to explain how having a penis offers an athlete a “competitive advantage” over their opponents. 

After Dr McKinnon suggested to the tennis star that she watch a video of her delivering a lecture on why trans women should be included in female sports, Ms Navratilova replied: “Your’e right. I don’t know who I am talking to and you do.

“Once again – clearly I am ignorant of what is being transphobic. So I am sorry for my ignorance, it won’t happen again.”

But after the 36-year-old reprimanded her for how she handled the sensitive topic on a public platform, Ms Navratilova responded: “I regret nothing.”

Dr McKinnon used the comments to post a series of tweets to her 4,600 followers, arguing that genitals have nothing to do with how an athlete performs. 

The cyclist claims to have received more than 100,000 hate messages on social media after she won the UCI Masters Track World Championship in October, leaving a runner up to call the race “unfair” and calling for a change in the rules. 

She said: “People: genitals are irrelevant to sports performance. Totally irrelevant. 

“The difference between a trans woman (especially on testosterone blockers) with a penis…and a trans woman without a penis is NOTHING.

“So focusing on the genitals IS transphobic.”