Australian tennis champ Margaret Court is doubling down against marriage equality in Australia, saying that proponents of equality are seeking to destroy marriage and all major holidays in the country.
“They want marriage because they want to destroy it,” said Court, now a Pentecostal minister. “There will be no Mother’s Day, there will be no Father’s Day, there will be no Easter, there will be no Christmas.”
A tennis champion with 64 Grand Slam Title wins to her name, Court made her most recent anti-LGBT remarks after being ousted as patron of the Cottesloe Tennis Club in Perth, which she said was motivated because of her views on marriage equality. She called the move by the tennis club politically motivated and suggested that the actions of the club reflected a left-leaning agenda that impinged on her freedom of speech, according to The West Australian.
“I think it’s sad. You don’t have the freedom of speech today to really defend yourself,” Court said. “It’s a sad day for our nation when it comes to that.”
To be fair, the president of the tennis club, Ian Hutton, confirmed that her views were discussed as part of the patron election process, as her extreme anti-LGBT stance may have prohibited her from attending certain events at the club. Chief executive of Tennis West Michael Roberts agreed that her views likely played a role.
“If you’ve got an opinion that’s very polarizing, when you’re so firmly supportive or against something, then it’s going to have an impact on how you’re perceived in the community,” he told The West Australian.
Australians currently have until November 7 to mail in a vote on whether they are for or against marriage equality, before Parliament votes on the issue. The results are of the mail-in vote are nonbinding, as Parliament will ultimately decide the fate of LGBT Australians. However, the mail-in ballot has inspired anti-LGBT groups to create harmful campaigns claiming that gay people are pedophiles and that marriage equality would lead to boys wearing dresses in school.
Court’s failure to be reelected as a patron to the Perth club prompted her to further comment on her perceived victimization even as same-sex couples in Australia are not recognized equally under the law there.
“I sense at the moment you can put a Yes [to marriage] sign in the window, everything’s all right, but if you put a No sign you get a brick through your window,” Court said. “We already have 36,000 gay couples in this nation, that’s not a lot of people when you think about the 25 million. They already have civil union [sic].”
Earlier this year, another tennis great — out star Martina Navratilova — wrote an open letter to the The Sydney Morning Herald urging the operators of the Melbourne’s Margaret Court Arena, which hosts the Australian Open, to change the name. Billie Jean King, another lesbian tennis star, weighed in and said that Court’s remarks about LGBT people have been “hurtful” but that she did not believe the arena name should be changed.
Four months prior to King’s famous "Battle of the Sexes" 1973 match, in which she trounced Bobby Riggs, Court played the famed chauvinist and lost miserably in what has been dubbed "The Mother’s Day Massacre." At an event in Los Angeles early this summer, Jessica McNamee, who plays Court in the upcoming film Battle of the Sexes, spoke with The Advocate about the controversy surrounding the real person she portrayed in the film.
"As far as changing the name of the court … I actually spoke to Billie Jean King recently. I guess I mimic her sentiment in that [Court] has a right to freedom of speech, and I don’t necessarily think that the name needs to be changed,” McNamee said. “Essentially, you know she was awarded that exclusively for her tennis, you can’t deny that she was the best female tennis player of her time. But yeah, I definitely have strongly different beliefs than her."