Australian Open 2020: Margaret Court's remarks on same-sex marriage clouds celebration of her 50th anniversary of calendar Grand Slam

Court, who also holds the all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles, has been heavily criticised for voicing her religious-based opposition to same-sex marriage.

Reuters January 26, 2020 15:15:58 IST
Australian Open 2020: Margaret Court's remarks on same-sex marriage clouds celebration of her 50th anniversary of calendar Grand Slam
  • The Australian Open will mark the 50th anniversary of Margaret Court’s calendar Grand Slam but the ceremony is expected to be muted amid criticism of the 77-year-old’s views on same-sex marriage.

  • Tennis Australia is set to hold a special presentation ceremony for Court on Monday at Melbourne Park commemorating her 1970 feat of winning all four major titles.

  • Court, who also holds the all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles, has been heavily criticised for voicing her religious-based opposition to same-sex marriage.

Melbourne: The Australian Open will mark the 50th anniversary of Margaret Court’s calendar Grand Slam on Monday but the ceremony is expected to be muted amid criticism of the 77-year-old’s views on same-sex marriage.

Australian Open 2020 Margaret Courts remarks on samesex marriage clouds celebration of her 50th anniversary of calendar Grand Slam

File image Margaret Court. AP

Tennis Australia (TA), the sport’s national governing body, is set to hold a special presentation ceremony for Court on Monday at Melbourne Park commemorating her 1970 feat of winning all four major titles.

Court, who also holds the all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles, has been heavily criticised for voicing her religious-based opposition to same-sex marriage.

TA has been quick to stress that it did not agree with Court’s views on same-sex marriage or the LGBTI community.

“As often stated, Tennis Australia does not agree with Court’s personal views, which have demeaned and hurt many in our community over a number of years,” it said in a statement in November.

“They do not align with our values of equality, diversity and inclusion.”

Earlier this week, Australian Open chief executive Craig Tiley clarified the organisation’s position, saying that the “recognition is for her tennis achievements only”.

“First of all, we’ve said from the outset that we will recognise what Margaret accomplished back in 1970 when she won all four grand slams,” he told the Tennis Channel.

“And there’s a difference between a recognition of that and a celebration of someone.”

Court, a Christian pastor at a Perth-based church she set up decades ago, launched a tirade against transgender athletes and called the teaching of LGBTI materials at schools the work of the “devil” during a sermon last month.

She had previously angered LGBTI activists and a number of former and current players after saying in a 2017 radio interview that tennis was “full of lesbians”.

Her great rival Billie Jean King as well as 18-times Grand Slam champion Martina Navratilova have both joined calls for the Melbourne Park show court, Margaret Court Arena, to be renamed.

Only two other women have completed the calendar Grand Slam, widely considered the greatest feat in tennis: American Maureen Connolly in 1953 and German Steffi Graf in 1988.

Australian Rod Laver, who completed the calendar Slam twice in 1962 and 1969, is the only man to do so after Don Budge in 1938.

The Australian Open marked Laver’s achievement with a similar ceremony last year.

Updated Date:

also read

US Open 2022 prize money sees a bump with maximum rewards going to qualifiers
Tennis

US Open 2022 prize money sees a bump with maximum rewards going to qualifiers

US Open prize money has exceeded $60 million for the first time for the 2022 edition. But the interesting part of the story is that it benefits the qualifiers.

Simona Halep to face Brazil's Haddad Maia for WTA Toronto Masters title
Tennis

Simona Halep to face Brazil's Haddad Maia for WTA Toronto Masters title

Simona Halep, the former world number one from Romania who won 2016 and 2018 trophies in Canada, showed her definitive return to form with the semis victory after dropping from the top 10 in the rankings a year ago due to injury.

Happy Birthday Pete Sampras: Top moments of 14-time Grand Slam champion
Tennis

Happy Birthday Pete Sampras: Top moments of 14-time Grand Slam champion

Among his 64 singles titles, Pete Sampras clinched 14 majors including seven Wimbledon, two Australian Opens and five US Open titles