NEW YORK -- Martina Navratilova said she plans to contact Magic Johnson to explain her comments this week that public response would be different if she had contracted HIV instead of Johnson.
"I certainly don't want him to take it personally because it is not meant as an offensive thing to him," Navratilova said last night after defeating Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in the quarterfinals of the Virginia Slims Championships.
"But the double standard is there, and it makes me mad as hell . . . This Magic thing is another example of women losing power, and we are taking steps backward."
Navratilova said she does not wish to judge anyone. "And I don't want people to judge me . . . and you know, I am not great. But we can all do better, I think. And the male athletes can certainly do better in their sexual habits."
Navratilova was quoted Wednesday in the New York Post that a double standard exists depending on who contracts the virus that causes AIDS. She said if a heterosexual woman were found to be HIV-positive after sleeping with hundreds of men, she would be called "a whore and a slut" while "promiscuity, it's very much accepted [among men]."
Johnson, who retired from the Los Angeles Lakers Nov. 7 when he announced he had tested HIV-positive, has said he had slept with scores of women and contracted the virus through unprotected sex.
Navratilova said she was "astonished" by the response to what she had said. "I am sure I could have said that President Bush is a closet cross-dresser and I wouldn't have got this much."
She said she has received largely positive feedback.
"A lot of people have been thinking those thoughts but have not been stupid enough or brave enough or vocal enough or famous enough to say them, I suppose," she said.