Tennis legend Martina Navratilova had a four–word reaction on Wednesday after a Democrat witness at the hearing on “Protecting Pride: Defending the Civil Rights of LGBTQ+ Americans“ was asked whether she thought males have a biological advantage over females in sports.
Kelley Robinson, who describes herself as the first queer, Black president of the Human Rights Campaign, was asked the question by Sen. John Kennedy, R–La. Robinson said she couldn‘t “definitively“ say males have an advantage over women in sports. Robinson then tried to use a “news article“ about how some men believe they could beat Serena Williams in tennis.
As Robinson pointed out, Riley Gaines noted that Williams and her sister, Venus, both lost to “lost to the 203rd–ranked male tennis player“ more than a decade ago.
Fifty–year–old Karsten Braasch challenged and beat Serena Williams and Venus Williams back–to–back at the 1998 Australian Open after the sisters claimed they could beat any male player outside the world‘s top 200.
Navratilova responded to the exchange on Twitter.
“This is just sad,” she wrote.
I quoted you in my opening statement at the hearing.
“There will always be significant numbers of boys and men who would beat the best girls and women in head-to-head competition. Claims to the contrary are simply a denial of science.”
Thanks for being such a force!!!
— Riley Gaines (@Riley_Gaines_) June 22, 2023
Navratilova, a nine–time Wimbledon champion and an activist for the gay community, has been vocal about her opposition to transgender women competing against biological women in sports.
In a March op–ed in The Times of UK, Navratilova praised World Athletics for adopting a policy to exclude transgender female athletes from women’s competitions, calling it a “step in the right direction.”
“Once somebody has gone through male puberty, there is no way to erase that physical advantage,” she wrote. “You cannot simply turn back the clock, for instance by trying to lower testosterone levels.”
Navratilova said she hoped the decision would lead to other sports following its lead.
Gaines, however, did not address Navratilova‘s comments specifically in her response to Kennedy‘s questions. Instead, she used the tennis legend as an example of female achievement in the sporting world.
“I‘m reminded of a famous line from Martina Navratilova…she said ‘you don‘t have to be a rocket scientist to see how much more capable men are than women in certain sports,” Gaines said. “But, she is one of the most successful athletes in history and her success attests to the fact that with equal opportunity, women can perform at the highest level in any sport.”
The exchange between Gaines and Kennedy was part of a larger hearing about the potential protections for LGBTQ+ Americans. The hearing comes on the heels of the Supreme Court ruling that workplace discrimination against gay and transgender individuals is illegal.
The four–hour hearing was the latest in a series of hearings taking place on Capitol Hill about the civil rights of LGBTQ+ individuals.