In Margaret Court’s days as a professional tennis player, she made headlines for her success and her dominance on the court. Today, however, Court’s name appears in the headlines for a different, more controversial reason.
In a recent radio interview with Vision Christian Radio, the former tennis star spoke out against gay marriage, stating that she would boycott “whenever possible” the airline Qantas because of the company’s stance on same-sex marriage.
And she didn’t stop there.
Court then expanded and discussed how her disapproval of gay marriage relates to the sport that propelled her into stardom.
“Tennis is full of lesbians,” she told The Guardian. “Even when I was playing there were only a couple there but those couple that led took young ones into parties. And what you get at the top is often what you’ll get right through that sport.”
These comments, plus Court’s statements that transgender individuals are “influenced by the devil,” have prompted many tennis stars, including No.1-ranked Andy Murray, to speak out against Court and urge officials to consider taking her name off the Margaret Court Arena in Australia.
“I don’t see why anyone has a problem with two people who love each other getting married. If it’s two men, two women, that’s great,” Murray said. “I don’t see why it should matter. It’s not anyone else’s business. Everyone, in my opinion, should have the same rights.”
Two openly gay tennis stars, Richel Hogenkamp from Holland and Australia’s Casey Dellacqua, have also both spoken out against Court and encouraged the renaming of the arena. Nick Kyrgios, Ashleigh Barty, John Millman, and Thanasi Kokkinakis have also released comments denouncing Court’s stance on marriage equality, according to The Guardian.
The athletes are pushing for immediate action in terms of renaming the arena that serves as one of the venues of the Australian Open every January.
“I think it would be a good thing to see if Australian Open can maybe change the name of the stadium, because I think if you’re in that kind of position, maybe some players they don’t feel so comfortable playing in a stadium named after Margaret Court,” Hogenkamp told Outsports.com, a site dedicated to providing a voice to LGBT athletes.
Murray has hinted at possibly boycotting the Australian Open because of Court and told The Independent that he strongly disagrees with Court’s stance.
“For players to be in a position where you’re in a slam and boycotting playing on the court, I think would potentially cause a lot of issues,” Murray said. “So I think if something was going to be happen and the players come to an agreement, if they think the name should be changed or whatever, that should be decided before the event starts. But I would imagine a lot of the players would be pretty offended. So we’ll see what happens.”