Culture

“A Racist And A Homophobe”: The Margaret Court Controversy Just Got Even More Serious

More high profile tennis players are suggesting a boycott could be on the cards.

We missed you too. Sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter, so you always know where to find us.

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova has written an open letter calling on Margaret Court Arena to change its name as even more deeply cooked comments from Margaret Court herself on the issues of race and sexuality have emerged.

Court’s earlier comments, where she announced a boycott of Qantas over the airline’s decision to publicly support same-sex marriage, provoked a wave of criticism, including calls for the Arena to be renamed. Artists playing the venue, including Ryan Adams and Grinspoon, slammed Court, and tennis player Sam Stosur suggested a boycott of the venue could be on the cards for next year’s Australian Open.

Since the controversy erupted Court has done numerous media interviews where she’s doubled down on her homophobic statements. In an interview with Vision Christian Radio she said the LGBTI community was “after our young ones, that’s what they’re after,” and compared same-sex marriage activists to Hitler.

She added that “tennis was full of lesbians” and that “they took the young ones to parties and things.”

It’s also emerged that Court defended South Africa’s policy of apartheid, telling the New Zealand Herald in 1970: “I love South Africa. I have many friends there. Of course, I will keep going to play. It is a tragedy that politics has come into sport – but if you ask me, South Africa has the racial situation rather better organised than anyone else, certainly much better than the United States.”

Navratilova has written an open letter in response to Court’s various comments, calling for the Arena to drop its association with her. The letter criticises Courts long history of racist and homophobic comments.

“It is now clear exactly who Court is: an amazing tennis player, and a racist and a homophobe,” Navratilova wrote. “Her vitriol is not just an opinion. She is actively trying to keep LGBT people from getting equal rights (note to Court: we are human beings, too). She is demonising trans kids and trans adults everywhere.

“How much blood will be on Margaret’s hands because kids will continue to get beaten for being different? This is not ok. Too many will die by suicide because of this kind of intolerance, this kind of bashing and yes, this kind of bullying. This is not ok.”

She ends the letter by suggesting Margaret Court Arena change its name to Evonne Goolagong Arena, after the former Australian world number one.

Another tennis champ, Andy Murray, has spoken out about suggestions that players could boycott the venue at next year’s Australian Open.

“For players to be in a position where you’re in a slam and boycotting playing on the court, I think would potentially cause a lot of issues,” Murray said. “So I think if something was going to be happen and the players come to an agreement, if they think the name should be changed or whatever, that should be decided before the event starts. But I would imagine a lot of the players would be pretty offended. So we’ll see what happens.”

Last week Margaret Court Arena issued a statement distancing the venue from Court’s comments, but they’ve stayed very quiet in the past few days.

With more and more people speaking out against Court’s public views on race and sexuality, it seems like pressure is building on a potential name change prior to Australian Open next year.