Eurosport

Margaret Court Arena should be renamed - no homophobic champion is bigger than tennis

Navratilova joins Murray in condemning Court: homophobic comments have no place in tennis

31/05/2017 at 12:01Updated 01/06/2017 at 11:41

No player is bigger than the sport, and Margaret Court's contentious views on same-sex marriage should lead to her court being renamed in Melbourne, writes Desmond Kane.

Everybody should have the right to free speech, the right to form an opinion, but that doesn’t mean airing your views comes without consequence. For every action, there is a reaction and all that jazz.

Court – who has the second show court in Melbourne Park named after her for winning 24 Grand Slam titles, the most in the sport – has created a perfect firestorm with her public views. Her views aren't going to slip quietly into the night.

Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne.

Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne.Eurosport

It has created a sideshow at the French Open, the second Grand Slam of the year, that does little good for a sport wanting to be enjoyed by all regardless of sex, age, race, religion or disability.

In such a respect, Court’s comments are about as useful to the game of tennis as Maria Sharapova’s medicinal preferences.

The 74-year-old Court, who is a Christian pastor these days, publicly decided to announce she will boycott Qantas after the Australian airline supported the legalising of same-sex marriage.

"I am disappointed that Qantas has become an active promoter for same-sex marriage," she wrote in a letter to The West Australian newspaper.

"I believe in marriage as a union between a man and a woman as stated in the Bible. Your statement leaves me no option but to use other airlines where possible for my extensive travelling."

Some will argue that Court has every right to state her opinion if she believes it, but then she can’t complain what comes next, about the reaction of those playing the sport for a living and a gathering queue of leading players lining up to condemn her. Her homophobic comments do little good for those seeking the sanity of equality.

The world number one Andy Murray offered his views on the subject after winning his first-round match at the French Open.

Andy Murray

Andy MurrayGetty Images

"I don't see why anyone has a problem with two people who love each other getting married," said Murray.

"If it's two men, two women, that's great. I don't see why it should matter. It's not anyone else's business. Everyone should have the same rights."

Murray has hinted the renaming of the court should be considered before the tournament rather than a boycott. Which seems likes the suitable outcome.

"I think if something was going to be happening and the players come to an agreement, if they think the name should be changed or whatever, that should be decided before the event...before the event starts."

Court shouldn’t be surprised if her name is removed from the court that has honoured her legacy since 2003.

Which will be sad for a great champion, but in such a lofty position she should think about what is good for the long-term health of the sport. We are no longer living in the 60s and 70s when she was bounding around the court.

What she has said is unhelpful to tennis in its modern form. And highly depressing for those tennis players who feel marginalised by such views. The Australian professional Casey Dellacqua has been criticised by Court in a newspaper for having a child in a same-sex relationship.

Renaming the court has nothing to do with trying to hurt Court. The reputation of tennis is much bigger than one person. The reputation of the Australian Open depends upon being much bigger than Margaret Court.

Desmond Kane

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