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Tennis great hits back after condemnation of ‘demeaning’ views

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Margaret Court is a controversial figure in the world of modern tennis, and her presence at the Australian Open this year no less so.

Margaret Court is a controversial figure in the world of modern tennis, and her presence at the Australian Open this year no less so.

The world's most successful player, with 64 major title wins, picked up a replica trophy from tennis legend Rod Laver before the clash between Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios.

"I think they said they were going to honour me but not celebrate me," the 77-year-old told 9News' Georgie Gardner.

"Because of my stance and my views on gay marriage and all of those areas, and I've got nothing against people.

"From the tennis side they've pointed the finger at me and tried to discriminate in everything that I've done and I think that's very sad."

Court was also recently the subject of a skit from another tennis great, John McEnroe.

"Margaret Court is actually a ventriloquist using the Bible as a dummy to say whatever she wants," he said.

Court said she had always thought she got on well with McEnroe.

"It really surprised me that he came out like that," she said.

"I feel sorry for him that he speaks like that, and he can't separate one part of life to another."

McEnroe, along with fellow tennis champion Martina Navratilova, has launched a bid to erase Court's name from the Melbourne arena.

"I'd never go to another nation, whatever I thought of a person, I would never say, 'hey, you should take their name off a building or off an arena, or a tennis centre," Court said.

"I think that was very, very wrong."

Tennis Australia said they flew Court and 20 family members from Perth to the Open, gave them 100 tickets, and honoured her at a lunch as well as on Rod Laver Arena.

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But Court said she was unhappy not to be given the microphone at her ceremony.

"I think they think because I'm a preacher, they think I'm going to preach the gospel."

Court still preaches at a church in Perth she founded 25 years ago, and feeds the homeless every week.

But it is her unashamedly fundamental views as a preacher that spark controversy.

"I teach that marriage is between a man and a woman, that a child needs a mother and a father," she said.

"God ordained it that way".

In the past, Court also said it was sad for children to be exposed to homosexuality through top tennis players like her one-time fan Navratilova.

"I apologised to her if it hurt her, but I said, these are my biblical views," Court said.

She said she offered to have a one-on-one conversation with Navratilova just last week, but nothing came of it.

Tennis Australia has been consistent in its approach to the issue throughout the tournament, saying it does not agree with Court's personal views, "which have demeaned and hurt many in our community over a number of years".

But Court, who said she had always loved playing for Australia, claimed not all fans agreed.

"I walked around and people touched me on the shoulder and said, thank you for being my voice," she said.

"I've never had anyone come up and say, I hate you."

Source: 9News

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