PERTH, Australia — Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova is a poor role model for young tennis players because she is a homosexual, says retired champion Margaret Court of Australia.
Court, a winner of 25 Grand Slam titles, three at Wimbledon, said in interviews that Navratilova's admitted homosexuality is a bad example for younger players.
"(Navratilova) is a great player, but I'd like to see somebody at the top to whom the younger players can look up to," said Court, a born-again Christian who lives in Perth. "It is very sad for children to be exposed to (homosexuality).
"Martina is a nice person. Her life has just gone astray."
Peter Johnson, who represents Navratilova for International Management Group, said she will have no comment on the story.
Court, 47, said some players have been led into homosexuality by other players, but did not name them. She said she believes Navratilova was influenced into a lesbian lifestyle during her early years on the pro tour.
Karen Schwartz, deputy director of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation in New York, called Court's statements "totally ridiculous."
"Underlying her statements is a complete ignorance of homosexuality," Schwartz said. "You don't catch it.
"Winning Wimbledon a record nine times qualifies you as a role model. That is the fundamental qualification. The rest has very little to do with it."