Australian tennis legend Margaret Court has defended herself against accusations of homophobia.
Court, who retired from professional tennis in 1977, holds the record for Grand Slam titles, with 24. She became a Pentecostal minister in the early 1990s and has since been a vocal critic of LGBT+ rights.
Court has made a series of anti-LGBT+ comments
over the last few days – stemming from a dispute with Qantas boss Alan Joyce. The airline boss is a strong advocate for equal marriage in Australia, and Court has announced that she will be boycotting the company because of his views.
Among a litany of offensive comments, Court said that gay people are “after” Australia’s youth, as well as saying that women’s tennis is now full of lesbians. She also expressed revulsion for parents who support children who wish to explore their gender identity. “What confusion to a child. I get confused talking about it. You can think, ‘I’m a boy’, and it affects your emotions and feelings and everything else. That’s all the devil.”
Martina Navratilova issued a blistering open letter
earlier this week, urging the Margaret Court Arena to change its name in response to Court's comments. “It is now clear exactly who Court is: an amazing tennis player, and a racist and a homophobe,” the letter read. “Her vitriol is not just an opinion. She is actively trying to keep LGBT people from getting equal rights (note to Court: we are human beings, too). She is demonising trans kids and trans adults everywhere.
Court has now defended herself, telling the Sydney Morning Herald
that her focus is on the definition of marriage: "I think marriage is so important and children are so important. My thing is just about the definition of marriage.
"They (LGBT+ people) can do what they want to do. I've got nothing against them. Just don't touch the definition in a Bible marriage." LGBT+ people can do what they want to do ... except get married.
"I don't dislike Martina personally at all, or any other women players," Court continued, addressing Martina's accusations of Court's homophobia and racism: "I've got nothing against gay people. I've got them in the church. I've also got over a hundred Africans in my church and they know I love them."
Court also expressed her nonchalance over a possible change to the name of Margaret Court Arena, an Australian Open venue that is at the centre of the controversy. "If the people want my name on there, then it's up to them," Court said. "I won more grand slams than any other man or woman."
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