Martina Navratilova unleashes brutal opinion about WTA Finals location

Navratilova and Chris Evert share the same view.
Angel Martinez/GettyImages

Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert have always been outspoken about how they view equality and women's athletics. Navratilova, for instance, does not want transgender athletes in women's sports. The reason is she feels the advantage is unfairly tilted toward the transgender athlete, not because she is against transgender rights. But there is no gray area when it comes to tennis involvement in Saudi Arabia: Navratilova is against it.

The issue isn't just money which can also affect the integrity of a sport. If a country tries to manipulate the system by pouring hundreds of millions of dollars or more into a sport then eventually the people who run the sport are going to give in. The sporting industry is, after all, meant to be a money-making process for organizers and players.

And if accepting that money means the proverbial souls of all involved are tainted then so be it. At least people get rich. Who cares if human rights are thrown out the window?

Martina Navratilova compares Saudi Arabia to North Korea

That is the thinking of Navratilova anyway. This has always been the case as well. She even admitted in a recent sit down ahead of a Laureus function that if she were a current player she might have a tougher time saying no to the WTA Finals being held in Saudi Arabia, a country pouring money into different sports but with a history of human rights violations, according to Amnesty International. Saudi Arabia, of course, denies any human rights concerns.

The obvious part would seem to be that athletes would not necessarily go to Saudi Arabia to play unless there was lots of money involved. If a country has to throw money at players to be involved in events, doesn't that imply there is a greater issue? Navratilova would likely think so.

The tennis great has also stated she will not take any part in the WTA Finals this year as they will be held in Saudi Arabia. She even took one step further and compared the Saudis to one of the most totalitarian governments in the world. Navratilova said, "(The WTA is) going to Saudi Arabia which is about as big a change as you can make except for maybe going to North Korea."

She added, "One of the comments I heard, one of the players said they ‘don’t want to be political’. Going to Saudi is about as political you can get. Welcome to sport. Sports is political. Sport has been at the forefront of social change.

"We’re a bit egotistical to think we can make a difference but who knows? Maybe this is a good thing, we’ll see how this goes. The players have to honor (the choice to play the WTA Finals in Saudi Arabia), they’re the ones competing."

Navratilova is correct, of course. Sports can be a reason for social change and countries that pour so much money into sports know that. They understand money will make people doubt their convictions, especially if what the person does for a living is play a sport and someone is offering a lot of money to simply play.

More tennis news and analysis