Controversy as Court to receive Australia Day award

Margaret Court, who won a record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, is to receive the top award in the Australia Day honours list according to reports in Australia; the reports have sparked criticism due to her views on LGBTQ+ issues

Last Updated: 24/01/21 8:35am

Margaret Court holds up the Australian Open trophy in 2020 fifty years on from winning four Grand Slams in the calendar year
Margaret Court holds up the Australian Open trophy in 2020 fifty years on from winning four Grand Slams in the calendar year

Controversial former tennis champion Margaret Court will receive the top award in the Australia Day honours list, according to reports in Australia.

The 78-year-old’s appointment as Companion of the Order of Australia was due to be revealed late on Monday, but it was leaked on social media ahead of Australia Day on Tuesday.

The award is to recognise Court’s eminent service to tennis as winner of a record 24 Grand Slam singles titles and a mentor for young athletes.

But her tennis achievements have more recently been overshadowed by her views on homosexuality, conversion therapy, same-sex marriage and transgender people.

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said he did not support Court receiving the honour.

“I don’t believe that she has views that accord with the vast majority of people across our nation that see people, particularly from the LGBTQ community, as equal and deserving of dignity, respect and safety,” he said.

Margaret Court had an illustrious career winning 24 Grand Slam singles titles
Margaret Court had an illustrious career winning 24 Grand Slam singles titles

Court, a Pentecostal minister who runs the Victory Life Centre church in Perth, Western Australia, said she will not change her opinions.

“All my life I’ve had those views and I was just saying what the Bible says,” Court told Australian Associated Press this week.

“I should always be able to say my views biblically, being a pastor and helping people with marriages and family. And I’ll never change those views.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who would not comment on Court’s possible honour, said compilation of the Australia Day list was separate from the government.

“This is a completely independent set of processes,” Morrison said. “It is an announcement that will be announced on that day. It is a system that recognizes the full spectrum of individuals across this country.”

In 2020, Court was honoured for the 50th anniversary of completing a calendar year Grand Slam winning all four major tournaments in 1970.

But former tennis stars including Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, John McEnroe and current player Andy Murray have all led calls for Courts name to be removed from Margaret Court Arena at Melbourne Park because of her views.

Source : Sky Sports