Margaret Court has returned serve to a Perth tennis club that has voted to dump her as vice-patron.
Cottesloe Tennis Club members recently voted against Court’s re-election, a move which the tennis legend slammed as being “politically motivated”.
“I think it’s sad. You don’t have the freedom of speech today to really defend yourself,” she said in an interview the West Australian.
“It’s a sad day for our nation when it comes to that.
“Ian Thorpe can stand for the other side and there’s no criticism but when we stand for our Christian beliefs or God’s side I feel sporting people are very intimidated, they’re put down.”
Court, who is now a pastor at Perth’s Victory Life Centre, sparked controversy earlier this year when she announced she would boycott Qantas because of their support for same-sex marriage and said that homosexuality was “ungodly” and transgender people were “all the devil”.
And Court told a recent Perth Rotary Club function that equality campaigners “want marriage because they want to destroy it.”
“It’s not about marriage. It will affect Christian schools, it will affect freedom of speech,” she said.
“There will be no Mother’s Day, there will be no Father’s Day, there will be no Easter, there will be no Christmas.
“I sense at the moment you can put a ‘Yes’ sign in the window, everything’s all right, but if you put a ‘No’ sign you get a brick through your window.”
Tennis West chief executive Michael Roberts defended Cottesloe Tennis Club’s decision, saying that if Court was going to speak publicly about polarising issues, she needs to be prepared for the backlash.
“If you’ve got an opinion that’s very polarising, when you’re so firmly supportive or against something, then it’s going to have an impact on how you’re perceived in the community,” he told The West Australian.
“Obviously, her opinions had played a part in it, there’s no doubt about that. Cottesloe Tennis Club, whether they meant to or not, have made a bit of a social stand by making the decision.”
Australian actress Jessica McNamee will play a young Margaret Court in the new biopic Battle of the Sexes, which chronicles openly gay tennis champion Billie Jean King’s match against Bobby Riggs in 1973.
King, who came out in 1981, told Fairfax Media this month: “I would love to talk to Margaret, and I think probably now I need to talk to her about what she’s saying. But she’s a Pentecostal minister with her own congregation so I don’t think it will help much or that she will change or adapt.
“Everyone has a right to state their opinion, but I also grew up as a Christian and I was a very religious young girl and always remember reading ‘judge not that ye be judged’ – that one always jumped off the page for me.
“Sadly, you can take any page in the Bible and use it your own way and she takes some other parts. If Jesus Christ was here, I think he’d agree that kindness and generosity and difference of opinion is okay.”