Tennis Legend Courts Damage to Her Legacy with Homophobic Remarks | WYPR

Tennis Legend Courts Damage to Her Legacy with Homophobic Remarks

Jun 5, 2017

Credit dcJohn/flickr

This was supposed to be the week where Serena Williams was going to take the next step towards removing Margaret Court from the record books.

Williams needs one more win at a major tennis tournament to match Court, who won 24 Grand Slam tournaments during her 17-year career.

The clay surface at the French Open, the site of this week’s tournament, hasn’t always been kind to Williams, but, as the world’s No.1 ranked player, she would have had a decent chance to tie Court.

That is, until Williams revealed her pregnancy a few weeks ago, which took her out of the French Open as well as Wimbledon and probably the U.S. Open for this year.

But, by the time Williams returns next year, Court may find herself irrelevant for reasons that have nothing to do with the Grand Slam record.

Court, a pastor in her native Australia, recently told a Christian radio station there that tennis is "full of lesbians."

Court doubled down, adding that a "gay lobby" was trying to "get into the minds of children." The vehicle, Court believes, is an Australian nationwide anti-bullying effort.

The 74-year-old Court has spoken out historically against same-sex marriage and added in the recent comments that transgender children were the work of "the devil."

Not surprisingly, Court’s comments have come in for heavy criticism in tennis circles.

John McEnroe, a man quite familiar with stirring up controversy with his words, poked fun at Court.

McEnroe said he’d get his friend, Elton John, who is gay, to perform a same-sex marriage in the Melbourne tennis court that bears her name. I think he was joking.

Both Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova, who are both themselves gay, were not joking.

They were sharply critical of Court, calling her homophobic. Navratilova went a step further, labeling Court’s comments "sick and dangerous."

And Court’s remarks aren’t exactly going over so well with active tour players, either.

Samantha Stosur, Australia’s top-ranked current female player, said Court is "digging a very big hole for herself."

Assuming Serena Williams returns to the game next year, she would certainly take aim at getting the two Grand Slam titles she needs to move ahead of Margaret Court on the all-time list.

That run would, in a perfect world, open the door for younger fans to learn what a great player Court was, the way these things usually work.

And, ironically, Williams would go for the tie at the Australian Open, playing some matches on a court named for Court.

But, if Navratilova and others have their way, Margaret Court’s name would be taken off that arena in ignominy.

Court is not shrinking from the fight. She claims that Navratilova is part of a U.S.-led conspiracy that is fueled and funded by what she calls the gay lobby.

Margaret Court says her opponents are bullying her and "taking my tennis and trying to destroy me through my tennis."

Actually, Margaret, your opponents are taking your hate-filled speech and using it against you in an approach you might not be familiar with. It’s called tolerance.

And that’s how I see it for this week.