Australian Open to honor Margaret Court anniversary despite 'demeaning' comments on lesbians & transgender kids
Margaret Court won all four Grand Slams in 1970 but Tennis Australia are facing calls to distance themselves from the Australian tennis icon ahead of the 50th anniversary of her victories amid her opposition to same-sex marriage.
In 2017, Court sparked controversy when she announced that tennis was "full of lesbians," while also stating that transgenderism is "the work of the devil." And now the 77-year-old former player - who won a record 24 Grand Slam titles in her career - is at the center of a controversy directly related to her past statements.
In 2003, Melbourne Park's Court One was renamed the Margaret Court Arena in her honor but Tennis Australia have since been lobbied to change its name following Court's opposition to gay marriage and other social issues.
Court now works as a Christian pastor and has previously stated that she would refuse to fly with Australian airline Qantas due to its support for same-sex marriage. She has also been heavily criticized by tennis legends Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King, both of whom are gay.
Ahead of events next year to mark the 50th anniversary of Court's Grand Slam clean sweep, Tennis Australia have announced that Court has been invited to attend with her family, where she is expected to take part in a programme of activities.
And despite their own opposition to her stances, Tennis Australia has said it won't "rewrite history" with regard to her achievements despite her beliefs not aligning with the organization's commitment to "equality, diversity and inclusion."
Australian Open 2020 will mark the 50th anniversary of Margaret Court’s historic Grand Slam.Read more: https://t.co/JsGzCApps9— TennisAustralia (@TennisAustralia) November 30, 2019
"As often stated, Tennis Australia does not agree with Margaret's personal views, which have demeaned and hurt many in our community over a number of years," Tennis Australia said in a statement.
"Tennis Australia recognises the champions in our sport as a matter of course, whether it be stadium names, naming of parks, statues around the country and trophies and awards during a player's career.Also on rt.com 'If you have any trouble in my country, just call me': Federer tears up as Maradona sends him touching personal message (VIDEO)
"Australia is fortunate that Margaret Court's extraordinary playing achievements form part of our national tennis history.
"However, the philosophy and culture of our sport goes deeper than winning and setting records. We seek to foster a sport that is inclusive and welcoming of everyone.
"We all bear some responsibility for creating a safe and inclusive society. As a sport, tennis is unwavering in playing our part."