Tennis legend Martina Navratilova has given her opinion on the recent controversy surrounding transgender swimmer Lia Thomas. The 18-time Grand Slam singles champion feels Thomas' wins should be asterisked since she was competing against women.
Lia Thomas became the first transgender woman to win a medal at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships. The 22-year-old took home gold in the 500m freestyle category, beating Olympic silver medalists Emma Weyant and Erica Sullivan by more than a second.
Her victory has led to widespread debate in the sports world, with fans, pundits and athletes claiming that a person with the physical advantages of the male body should not be competing with women.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with NewsNation's Rich McHugh, Martina Navratilova revealed that Thomas' win did not sit well with her. The 65-year-old stressed that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) should have amended its rules to prevent the incident from happening in the first place.
Navratilova further noted that Thomas was about to hit her physical prime, meaning that she could go on to represent her country at the Olympics and break numerous records. The American feels athletes like Thomas should be allowed to compete as they wish, but not for prizes and medals.
“The solution, perhaps for now, is [for Thomas] to swim in another lane or you can compete but you don’t get the medal because the NCAA rules are not correct,” Navratilova said. “Right now, the rules are what they are. Maybe put an asterisk there, if she starts breaking records left and right and if Lia goes to the Olympics because she’s hitting her prime now physically.”
Martina Navratilova made it clear that her comments did not stem from any sort of transphobia. Instead, the tennis legend declared that women deserved the right to compete against others who were as close to them from a biological standpoint.
"Its not about excluding transgender women from winning, ever,” Martina Navratilova said. “But it is about not allowing them to win when they were not anywhere near winning as men. You try to keep it as close as possible to what it would have been had you been born in the female biological body in the first place.”
Martina Navratilova hopes that there will be a separate category for biological females in the future
Martina Navratilova hopes such incidents can be avoided in the future by splitting up the participants into two separate categories -- one for everyone involved and one for just biological females.
The American feels that in such a scenario, the competition would be more balanced, since trans women would be pitted against men, while trans men would be allowed to participate in whichever category they felt comfortable in.
"In the future, maybe it should be an open category for everybody and then biological females, so trans women can compete, but they compete against men and trans men have a choice,” Navratlilova said.