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We Shouldn’t Be Separating Margaret Court From Her Homophobic and Racist Values

If you use your tennis platform to spout hate, then you don’t get to complain when you’re ignored.

Look, I really don’t know much about tennis. Until I saw Margaret Court trending on Twitter today, I didn’t know who she was. Turns out, she’s an absolutely exceptional tennis player. She’s also homophobic and previously said that apartheid is apparently not without fault. Hmm.

Margaret Court thinks she is being discriminated against because of her, quite frankly, fucked up views. The recent controversies around her are based on two things. The first is the renaming of the Margaret Court Arena, and the second is the celebration of 50 years since her grand slam. But here’s the thing – can we celebrate her when she’s so openly problematic? Let’s get into it.

Changing The Name Of The Margaret Court Arena

Margaret Court’s attendance at the Australian Open in January this year sparked a heated debate on if the Margaret Court Arena should still be named after her, since she’s publicly declared her opposition to gay marriage.

The arguments are pretty solid – naming a stadium after someone is a clear message of support for that person. If that person is publicly stating their stances on issues which don’t align with your values, would you still support them?

Margaret Court reckons that her controversial statements that marriage can only be between a man and a woman should be separated from the decision to name the arena in her honour – but it sends the wrong message to LGBT athletes, who would feel unwelcome if a public homophobe got honoured with a stadium. And that’s not even including her pro-apartheid statements. It becomes an issue not of athletic status, but of values.

Margaret Court is actually a Reverend leader at Victory Of Life, which is a Pentecostal movement she started decades ago in Perth. She’s literally said that tennis is “full of lesbians.” And yet she wants Tennis Australia, who were recognised in the Pride in Sports awards, to name a stadium after her? If she has a right to be public with her homophobia, then Tennis Australia has a right to name their stadium after someone who aligns with their own public values.

Anna Brown, executive of Equality Australia said it best, reported by The Age.

“Keeping Court’s name on the stadium sends completely the wrong message about the values that we hold as a society.

“When Court uses her public platform gained through her tennis prowess to insult the LGBTI community, it shows we can’t separate Court the athlete from her harmful views.”

Honouring Margaret Court’s Grand Slam

This one is a bit murkier – because it’s not about a public statement of ‘honour’ or support, but rather about congratulating someone on their athletic achievements. She did win a grand slam. She was an incredible athlete.

But again, celebrating her wins inherently celebrates her as a person. This woman was literally pro-South African apartheid, guys. How can we expect to get past that?

She’s said that she expects the same invitation, welcome and celebration that Rod Laver received for the 50th anniversary of his grand slam. Which is funny, because I’m sure black people want the same rights as white people in South African apartheid, though she didn’t support that kind of equality.

Tennis Australia said they’re looking for a way to honour her properly, but haven’t actually given a way as to how. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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