Martina Navratilova (Photo by Angela George, Wikimedia Commons)

Martina Navratilova (Photo by Angela George, Wikimedia Commons)

After declaring that allowing men who identify as women to compete in women’s sports is “cheating,” tennis great Martina Navratilova has apologized.

An outspoken lesbian, Navratilova issued the apology in a column on her website after the LGBTQ organization Athlete Ally announced it was severing ties with her in response to her comments, Fox News reported.

In her apology, she explained that her previous comments, in an op-ed for the Sunday Times of London, were to “encourage a more scientific, rather than emotional, conversation and to search for a solution that would work better than current arrangements.”

“Well, I certainly stumbled into a hornets’ nest,” she wrote. “The support I normally get from ‘my people,’ the LGBT community, was replaced by a barrage of quite nasty personal attacks and I was dropped [jettisoned is a better word] as an ambassador for Athlete Ally.”

She said she was sorry for using the word “cheat,” because “I certainly was not suggesting that transgender athletes in general are cheats.”

“I attached the label to a notional case in which someone cynically changes gender, perhaps temporarily, to gain a competitive advantage,” she said.

In her op-ed for the Sunday Times last month, she wrote that a man “can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organization is concerned, win everything in sight and perhaps earn a small fortune, and then reverse his decision and go back to making babies if he so desires.”

“It’s insane and it’s cheating. I am happy to address a transgender woman in whatever form she prefers, but I would not be happy to compete against her. It would not be fair,” she wrote.

In her apology, she said she “will always be a champion of democracy, equal rights, human rights and full protection under the law for everyone.”

“When I talk about sports and rules that must be fair, I am not trying to exclude trans people from living a full, healthy life,” she said. “And I am certainly not advocating violence against trans people, as has been suggested. All I am trying to do is to make sure girls and women who were born female are competing on as level a playing field as possible within their sport.”

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