Martina Navratilova has criticised the US Tennis Association (USTA) for its stance on transgender athletes competing in women’s tennis tournaments.
It comes as transgender tennis star Alicia Rowley reportedly became the latest player to win a Women’s National Tennis Championship and ‘the coveted Golden Ball’.
The Independent Council On Women’s Sports (ICONS) posted the news on Twitter, stating that Rowley recently won the women’s 55+ Grass Court National Championship and National Indoor Singles and Doubles Championship.
The USTA states in its Transgender Inclusion Policy that trans athletes should be included and not blocked from playing the sport.
The document states: ‘It is necessary to ensure, insofar as possible, that transgender athletes are not excluded from the opportunity to participate in sporting competitions.
Martina Navratilova (pictured) has criticised the US Tennis Association (USTA) for its stance on transgender athletes
It comes after transgender tennis player Alicia Rowley became the latest Women’s National Tennis Champion
ICON’s co-founder Kim Shasby Jones called on the US Tennis Association to ‘change their policy’ that says trans athletes should not be blocked from playing the sport
‘The overriding sporting objective is and remains the guarantee of fair competition. Restrictions on participation are appropriate to the extent that they are necessary and proportionate to the achievement of this objective.’
But following the news that Rowley had won the National Tennis Championship, ICONS Co-founder, Kim Shasby Jones tagged Navratilova and Chrissie Evert in a Tweet, and claimed the USTA’s transgender policy should be changed.
‘Hey @USTA @WTA @Martina @ChrissieEvert,’ Shasby Jones wrote. ‘Women’s tennis is turning into a laughing stock because of these terrible policies prioritising the mental health and identity of men over women who have discovered a love of tennis.
‘The women are calling us and begging for help to be allowed to play fairly. They have complained; they don’t know where else to turn. Men are winning national titles, taking the place of women on team tennis, and competing in women’s tournaments across the country.
‘We need to let the women and girls playing tennis know that they deserve to be treated fairly and recognised for their accomplishments no matter when they pick up the sport.
And Navratliova responded to the ICONS co-founder on Twitter stating ‘This is not right and it is not fair’
In their Transgender Inclusion Policy, the USTA says: ‘It is necessary to ensure, insofar as possible, that transgender athletes are not excluded from the opportunity to participate in sporting competitions.
‘They do not have to reach any kind of elite status. There is already a category for male athletes to enjoy this privilege. Let female athletes enjoy the game of tennis too.
‘Change the policy’ she added, addressing the governing bodies. ‘And change your stance @BillieJeanKing – don’t abandon these women and this sport any longer.’
In response, 16-time Grand Slam champion, Navratilova, wrote: ‘Come on @USTA – women’s tennis is not for failed male athletes- whatever age.
‘This is not right and it is not fair. Would this be allowed at the US Open this month? Just with self ID? I don’t think so…’
For league and recreational purposes, the USTA does not require transgender athletes to confirm their gender identity status but does require those playing professionally to meet certain conditions.
Their Transgender Inclusion Policy reads: ‘On the league and recreational side of the equation, the USTA takes the position that we do not require confirmations of gender identity status. Above all, we do not want to be an obstacle to recreational participation.
‘We seek to respect all individuals, and we take it on faith that players who compete under these rules are doing so not to gain a competitive advantage, but to enjoy participating in a manner in which they are comfortable.’
For professional competitions it adds: ‘Those who transition from male to female are eligible to compete in the female category under the following conditions: The athlete has declared that her gender identity is female. The declaration cannot be changed, for sporting purposes, for a minimum of four years.
‘Hormonal therapy appropriate for the assigned sex has been administered in a verifiable manner and for a sufficient length of time to minimise gender-related advantages in sport competitions.’
Navratilova (right) has previously spoken out against transgender players competing in female competitions before
Last year she challenged Billie Jean King (right) on Twitter, after the American had expressed her support for wrote on Twitter ‘Trans youth deserve to play and thrive.’
It comes after the president of a Wyoming tennis association, Jackie Fulkrod, resigned last week in protest against a decision to allow a transgender female player, Brooklyn Ross, to participate in the women’s singles category of the Governor’s Cup.
Fulkrod said to Cowboy State Daily: ‘I think a man playing against a woman is a very unfair matchup when it’s specifically meant for women in that specific draw,’ she told Cowboy State Daily.’
‘My decision to resign was solely based on the fact that we didn’t have any way to protect our organisation or protect our female athletes that are going to be playing in the tournament,’ Fulkrod added.
This is not the first time that Navratilova has published her views on transgender athletes competing in female sporting categories.
In March she said the World Athletics’ decision to ban transgender athletes from competing in women’s categories was ‘a step n the right direction’ before calling for an ‘open category for all-comers’.
In December 2022 the 66-year-old also responded to a Tweet from Billie Jean King, who had expressed her support for trans athletes.
Jean King had written: ‘The Federal Appeals Court just upheld Connecticut’s trans-inclusive athletics policy.’ She added: ‘Trans youth deserve to play and thrive.’
‘I couldn’t disagree more, inclusion at the cost of exclusion is not inclusion,’ Navratilova responded.
‘Nobody is banning trans people from competing – they just need to compete in the biological category rather than a self ID category.
‘Either one day have three categories or two categories: one open to all and one for biological women only. But they are allowed to compete now.’
British rowing last week announced that it would be prohibiting trans athletes from competing in female sporting competitions and followed the UCI, cycling’s world governing body, who also restricted trans athletes from competing in female events in July.