Margaret Court’s pointed comments about gay rights back in December quickly drew scorn from legendary tennis stars, activists and her fellow countrymen.
But so far, the proposed demonstrations on the court that bears her name have yet to surface as the 2012 Australian Open gets underway down under.
On Monday, British teenager Laura Robson wore an understated rainbow hairband around her ponytail during a swift, 6-2, 6-0 first-round loss to Jelena Jankovic at Margaret Court Arena. Robson’s message was clear — if hard to spot from the stands — but was a far cry from an Internet campaign to fly rainbow flags over the court.
“I wore it because I believe in equal rights for everyone. You know, that’s it,” said Robson, 17.
In a December interview with The West Australian, Court — a 24-time Grand Slam singles champion — stated her opposition to gay marriage.
“Politically correct education has masterfully escorted homosexuality out from behind closed doors, into the community openly and now is aggressively demanding marriage rights that are not theirs to take,” Court said. “The fact that the homosexual cry is, ‘We can’t help it, as we were born this way,’ as the cause behind their own personal choice is cause for concern.”
Martina Navratilova quickly weighed in during an interview with TennisChannel.com, saying “seems to me that a lot of people have evolved, as has the Bible. Unfortunately, Margaret Court has not. ...Her myopic view is truly frightening as well as damaging to the thousands of children already living in same-gender families.”
“I have tried to talk to Margaret, but to say she’s completely close-minded on the issue is an understatement.”
Australian Rennae Stubbs, an openly gay player who owns four Grand Slam doubles titles, supports those who want to show their support for gay rights during matches at Margaret Court Arena.
“Margaret has said her feelings and it’s public, and it has leverage,” Stubbs said. “So I think this is the only way the people feel that they can be heard, through a sign of solidarity. As long as it is done tastefully, that’s the most important thing for me.”
Court’s words sparked the creation a Facebook group called “Rainbow Flags Over Margaret Court Arena,” which is encouraging fans to display gay-pride banners and rainbow-colored flags during matches. Those efforts have yet to materialize, however.
Court, 69, who won 11 Australian Open titles in her career, became a Pentecostal minister in the 1991. Four years later, she founded Victory Life Centre in Perth where she continues to serve as the senior pastor.
Since her December interview, some Australians have called for her name to be stripped from 6,000 seat arena at Melbourne Park.
What do you think? Should Court’s social views overshadow her athletic achievements? Should this be a non-issue?
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