Former Wimbledon Tennis Champion Labels LIV Golf Players 'Pathetic'

Martina Navratilova says she is "so disappointed with my fellow athletes"

Martina Navratilova pictured at a microphone
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova has labelled Graeme McDowell's comments at this week's LIV Golf Invitational Series as "pathetic."

G-Mac was asked about the controversial Saudi funding and admitted that the "Khashoggi situation was reprehensible," before saying that "we are proud to help Saudi if they want to use golf to get to where they want to be."

Martina Navratilova called the comments "pathetic" and asked "How exactly is golf going to help women in Saudi?!?" The Czech-American, who won 18 grand slams including nine Wimbledon titles, said she turned down a high-paying South African exhibition match in the 80s due to "principle." 

"In the 80’s, Chris and I were offered a lot of money to play an exhibition in South Africa and we refused. Something called #principle made that an easy decision," she wrote, before saying "I am so disappointed with my fellow athletes for doing this… seems everybody has a price."

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A number of golfers have had to field difficult questions from reporters this week at the Centurion Club, including Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter who were asked if they'd play a tournament run by Vladmir Putin and if there's anywhere they wouldn't play if the money was right.

"That's speculation. I don't need to answer that," Poulter said, adding that he doesn't think LIV Golf should be controversial

This week's event sees 12 LIV Golf teams of four players take on the Centurion Club, where $25m in prize money is up for grabs. The first round tee times have been released, with all groups going off at 2.15pm local time in a shotgun start format.

Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016. He graduated in Sports Journalism in 2016 and currently manages the Golf Monthly news, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He has also covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as three Open Championships including at Carnoustie in 2018 when he was inside the ropes with Tiger Woods. He has played 31 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Alwoodley. He currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 4-6. His golfing highlight is making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, and he has made one hole-in-one.

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Honma TR20

3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max

2 iron: Mizuno MP-18 MMC Fli-Hi

Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x