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AU Tennis Star Margaret Court Defends Gay Marriage Views Amid Bid to Celebrate Grand Slam Anniversary

by Sam Cronin
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Saturday Nov 9, 2019
Margaret Court
Margaret Court   (Source:Vincent Thian/Associated Press)

Margaret Court, an Australian tennis star who ended her professional career in the 1970s, has come under renewed fire for her opposition to gay marriage.

"I love them, I have them in the church here," Court said according to 7 News AU. "I have nothing against homosexual people, but that is my beliefs on marriage."

Her comments come amid drama over whether or not Tennis Australia, the Australian governing board for the sport, will honor the 50th anniversary of Court's grand slam achievement in 1970. The advisory board has said it will 'recognise but not celebrate,' the event, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. Court has called the move unfair and said that she's been attacked for her views.

"A lot of attacks came at me," she said. "People don't see the other side when you're being persecuted and horrible things are being said to you. I would never speak that way (to people)."

Her views have drawn criticism from other famous players, including longtime rival Billie Jean King, John Alexander, and Wendy Turnbull.

Alexander voiced his opinion on the matter to SMH, saying: "If you go back to the time when Billie Jean King was openly gay and left her husband for a woman, Margaret would have been seen with her Christian virtue as a pillar of society. She hasn't changed, but now we totally accept the right of people to marry someone of the same sex. Margaret hasn't changed, but the times have changed."

Turnbull had milder views, telling SMH: "What Margaret achieved is special and she worked hard to do this and she represented Australia well while playing tennis. We should recognise her grand slam 50th anniversary, but how I don't know. It should not be overboard."

In the wake of the blowback for her marital views, Court held strong that her achievements should stand alone, telling 7 News: "It's 50 years since I won the grand slam and I still hold more records than anybody. I love my nation, I play for my nation, I represented my nation."

She also drew parallels to another tennis star who celebrated his 1969 grand slam this year.

"They brought Rod [Laver] in from America. If they think I'm just going to turn up, I don't think that is right," Court said according to 7 News. "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 really don't want to come."

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