Margaret Court was one of the greatest tennis players of her generation, that fact is unquestionable.
In the singles, she won 11 Australian Open titles (seven consecutively between 1960-1966), 5 French Open titles, 3 Wimbledon titles and 5 US Open titles between 1960-1973.
In the doubles, she won 19 career Grand Slams, including all four majors, and in the mixed doubles, she won 21 career Grand Slams, again including all four majors.
She also won the Fed Cup four times, and the WTA Tour Finals twice.
In total, she won a whopping 192 career titles, and the former world number one (in both the singles and the doubles) was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1979.
For her contribution to sport, she was awarded both an AO (Officer of the Order of Australia) and an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire), and Tennis Australia renamed Show Court One at the sports and entertainment complex Melbourne Park to the Margaret Court Arena in 2003.
However, the 74-year-old has been caught up in a furious row after her criticism of LGBT rights sparked a heated backlash, with many now calling for her name to be dropped from the Australian Open’s number one court.
Tennis Australia have distanced themselves from Court’s views, stating that: “As a legend of the sport, we respect Margaret Court’s achievements in tennis and her unmatched playing record.
“Her personal views are her own, and do not align with Tennis Australia’s values of equality, inclusion and diversity.”
The controversy stems from Court’s views on same-sex rights.
Here are some of the things she has gone on the record as saying:
- In the early 1990s she accused Martina Navratilova and other lesbian tennis players of ruining the sport.
- In 2012, she said the federal government’s marriage reform plans would “legitimise what God calls abominable sexual practices”
- In 2017, after the airline Qantas came out as a supporter of gay marriage, Court said she will “use other airlines where possible”
- In 2017, she said that she thinks transgender children are the work of “the devil”.
- In 2017, she said she wants to help the LGBT+ community “overcome” it.
- In 2017, she said that tennis is “full of lesbians” and that when she played “there was only a couple.”
Players are now reportedly seriously considering lobbying Tennis Australia by boycotting matches on the Margaret Court Arena in the 2018 Australian Open.
If the boycott happens, it will put serious pressure on Australian tennis’ governing body to drop Court’s name from the arena, and although they’re trying to distance themselves from her comments, they would be wise to listen to her critics.
Court is one of the best female tennis players in history, but her outdated views have tainted her legacy, and Tennis Australia should drop her name from the Arena to avoid coming under added fire further down the road.
What do you think? Should Tennis Australia drop Margaret Court’s name? Or should they honour her achievements despite her views?
Let us know in the comments below.