Court-gate: What’s going on with the Margaret Court Arena?

“It is now clear exactly who [Margaret] Court is: an amazing tennis player, and a racist and a homophobe.” — Martina Navratilova

Harsh words from the 18-time Grand Slam winner, but also a fair reflection on what are incredibly backwards and ill-judged remarks from Margaret Court.

Free speech is a beautiful, yet dangerous tool, and such comments from the Australian should expect backlash; in this case, it could be a tennis court – named after her – changing its name.

The arena which hosts the Australian Open was initially named Show Court One, only to change its name in 2003 to Margaret Court Arena in dedication to Australia’s most successful tennis player.

But, in spite of the Australian’s 24 Grand Slams, the 74-year-old is losing what is a very respectable sporting reputation with comments on homosexuality in tennis.

What has Court said?

  • Transgenders are the work of “the devil.”
  • Stated how she avoids flying with Qantas, due to the airlines support of same-sex marriage
  • On the current position of tennis: “tennis is [now] full of lesbians.”
  • Back in 1970, Court claimed: “South Africa has the racial situation rather better organised than anyone else, certainly much better than the United States.”

The controversial remarks has led to top players such as, Navratilova and Andy Murray, calling for the stadium to be renamed. There has even been whispers that if action is not taken on the comments, that players could boycott the next Australian Open.

Australia’s current No. 1, Samantha Stosur, is not an advocate for such measures, and is keen for Court to be remembered for her success in the sport, rather than her views outside of it:

“I find it very hard to believe that the name would ever be changed – the court’s named Margaret Court Arena because of what she did in tennis.” — Samantha Stosur

With the current focus on tennis being at the French Open, the controversial remarks from a sporting legend are causing an unnecessary and unsavoury distraction; it seems that the demands from the likes of Murray and Navratilova are perfectly reasonable, and Margaret Court should perhaps be reminded that we are in the 21st century.

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