Court’s blunt ultimatum to Tennis Australia

Controversial legend Margaret Court has put pressure on Tennis Australia to properly honour the 50th anniversary of her 1970 Grand Slam, as it did for male icon Rod Laver.

Laver's 1969 Slam was lauded at this year's Australian Open, though 'Rocket' is a universally beloved figure in Aussie sport.

Court, who is an outspoken critic of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, is a far more difficult case and Tennis Australia is grappling with how to formulate an acceptable plan to honour her achievement.

Court still holds the all-time Grand Slam singles titles record, with 24, yet has faced calls for her name to be stripped from one of Melbourne Park's main arenas due to her condemnation of homosexual people.

Speaking to The Age, Court said that she would not accept anything less than the honours afforded to Laver and should be a special guest for next year's Open.

"They brought Rod in from America. If they think I'm just going to turn up, I don't think that is right," Court said.

"I think I should be invited. I would hope they would pay my way to come like they paid for his, and honour me. If they are not going to do that, I don't really want to come."

Court said she was steadfast in her Christian beliefs denouncing same-sex marriage, but does not feel those views should have any bearing with Tennis Australia; which is yet to contact her over any plans for the 2020 Open.

"I don't feel any of that should be brought into my tennis career," she said.

"It was a different phase of my life from where I am now and if we are not big enough as a nation and a game to face those challenges there is something wrong."

Court's views put her at loggerheads with fellow women's tennis icons such as Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova, who are both gay. It is likely that Court will face further protest should she be made a prominent part of the upcoming Open, from both gay rights advocates and top current players.

A Tennis Australia spokesperson said that the organisation recognised Court's achievements but did not support her views on LGBTIQ people.


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