Margaret Court will appear as a “special guest” at the 2020 Australian Open, Tennis Australia has said while also denouncing her anti-LGBTIQ views in an eloquent open letter.
Court, who is now a pastor in Perth, won 24 grand-slam single titles in her career. In 1970, she won the Australian Open, Wimbledon, French Open and US Open.
But her views on same-sex marriage, the “gay lobby”, transgender people and other issues overshadow her sporting achievements. Saturday, Tennis Australia announced they will mark the 50th anniversary of Court’s grand slam achievement at the Australian Open 2020 with a special invite and in-stadium entertainment.
“Tennis Australia respects Margaret’s unmatched tennis career and welcomes her to the Australian Open,” the statement read.
“As often stated, Tennis Australia does not agree with Margaret’s personal views. [Those views] demeaned and hurt many in our community over a number of years.
“They do not align with our values of equality, diversity and inclusion.
“Our sport welcomes everyone, no matter what gender, ability, race, religion or sexuality.
“We will continue to actively promote inclusion initiatives widely at all levels of the sport.”
Tennis Australia publishes open letter on Margaret Court
Tennis Australia also released an open letter denouncing Margaret Court’s comments and explaining why.
“[Court’s] outstanding playing career is her tennis legacy and clearly worthy of recognition.
“We will continue to communicate with Margaret, as we have for many years, regarding events, our recognition of her achievement, our sport and its culture.
“However, the philosophy and culture of our sport goes deeper than winning and setting records. We seek to foster a sport that is inclusive and welcoming of everyone.
“We all bear some responsibility for creating a safe and inclusive society. As a sport, tennis is unwavering in playing our part.”
Tennis Australia also wrote that they have “often communicated to Margaret, that everyone has a right to an opinion – and a right to express it.”
“Equally, we all share an obligation that while living our lives freely, we do not harm others, and we understand that there are consequences to our words.
‘Intolerance and demeaning language’
“Publicly stated views of intolerance and demeaning language about others can have an enormous impact,” Tennis Australia wrote.
“[They] are particularly hurtful and harmful to those who believe they are targeted.
“We have a big responsibility as a sport to play a leadership role in supporting an inclusive community, and respecting the rights of all Australians, whether or not they play our great sport.
“Similarly, we believe any public figure has a big responsibility to ensure their views are expressed in a way that demonstrates respect and tolerance, and does not cause harm to, or degrade others.
“As a sport, tennis is unwavering in playing our part to ensure an inclusive society.
“We cannot condone views that fracture our incredible tennis community, nor indeed, the wider community.
“The tennis court and club should be a place of fun and comfort to everyone, where people from all walks of life get to know each other without fear of judgment or harassment.
“Inclusivity is at the very core of what we do and that also involves creating an environment where people feel comfortable to be themselves and live their lives as they see fit without causing harm to others.”
Tennis legend tells Tennis Australia to ‘honour her’
Earlier this month, Margaret Court called on Tennis Australia to honour her, just as they did Rod Laver for the 50th anniversary of his 1969 Grand Slam this year.
“I think Tennis Australia should sit and talk with me,” Court said at the time.
“They have never phoned me. Nobody has spoken to me directly about it. I think they would rather not confront it.
“They brought Rod in from America. If they think I’m just going to turn up, I don’t think that is right. 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 don’t really want to come.”
Court said in a statement on Saturday she was looking forward to celebrating the anniversary at the Open.
“This is an incredible milestone for me, and I can’t quite believe how quickly the time has gone,” Court said.
“It’s always wonderful to catch up with my fellow legends and I’m grateful to Tennis Australia.
“Tennis is a wonderful sport and I’m proud to be part of the history of our great game.”
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