Tennis great snubs Aussie Open – again

Sunday Mail - - NEWS - PETER ROLFE

TENNIS leg­end Mar­garet Court will turn her back on the Aus­tralian Open for the second suc­ces­sive year but doesn’t want her moniker re­moved from the sta­dium named in her hon­our.

The most suc­cess­ful fe­male player in Grand Slam his­tory yesterday said she would re­main in Perth rather than ac­cept an in­vi­ta­tion to at­tend this year’s Melbourne tour­na­ment.

“No, not com­ing this year,” she said yesterday.

It comes a year after she opted to skip the Open amid calls for Mar­garet Court Arena to be re­named be­cause of con­tro­ver­sial com­ments she made about gay mar­riage.

Court told the Sun­day Mail she hoped her tennis ca­reer would con­vince the pub­lic to sup­port keep­ing her name on the Melbourne Park sta­dium.

“That’s prob­a­bly up to the peo­ple but I did do what I did be­cause it was right,” she said. She said calls from fel­low tennis great Martina Navratilova to re­name Mar­garet Court Arena be­cause of Court’s anti-gay mar­riage stance were un­fair.

“I think be­cause I just stood up and said what the Bi­ble says about mar­riage that all hap­pened,” she said.

“I love my na­tion, I never lost a match for my na­tion, so I don’t feel that’s right.”

De­spite draw­ing wide­spread crit­i­cism for her views, Court said she main­tained her stance.

“Peo­ple have free­dom of speech and you be­lieve what you be­lieve and I think that’s where it got out of hand,” she said. “You get bul­lied for things that you be­lieve and what you say but I would do it again, so that’s all right.”

Court said she would re­turn to the Open one day un­der the right cir­cum­stances.

“If I’m of­fi­cially in­vited I would come, yes,” she said.

Tennis Aus­tralia chief op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer Tom Larner said there was no plan to re­name Mar­garet Court Arena.

“There is no change to MCA,” he said. “That will re­main as is.”

Court won 24 ma­jors, in­clud­ing all four Grand Slams in a cal­en­dar year, in a glit­ter­ing ca­reer in the 1960s and ’70s be­fore be­com­ing a Chris­tian min­is­ter in WA.

STAND: Mar­garet Court

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