Margaret Court is the greatest Australian female tennis player ever. In fact, she’s one of the very best female tennis players ever from any country, having won more Grand Slam singles titles than any other woman.
Fifty years ago, Court accomplished one the most remarkable feats ever in women’s tennis — a calendar year “grand slam.” In other words, she won the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open in the same year.
At this year’s Australian Open, Australian tennis officials intend to honor Court’s achievement. However, the decision to do so has generated controversy.
Why? Because of Court’s views on LGBT issues.
Court sees the participation of transgender women in women’s sports competitions as problematic (as it surely is). She also is troubled by children age 7 or 8 changing their sex. In addition, she has said that being gay is a choice. And she announced she would boycott Qantas Airways because its chief executive supports same-sex marriage.
Court’s views on these matters are religiously based. She is a Pentecostal minister. Some of the statements for which she is under fire were made during sermons.
Court’s situation has some parallels to that of Curt Schilling, whom I discussed yesterday. It looks like Schilling has been excluded from baseball’s Hall of Fame (so far, anyway) because of his political/social views. Tennis Australia is being pressured not to honor Court’s fantastic athletic achievements because of her social/slash religious views.
Leading the charge against Court is another tennis legend, Martina Navratilova. She has even called for an arena named after Court to be renamed.
Navratilova calls Court’s views on LGBT issues “pathetic in every way.” (Emphasis added) That’s odd because Court’s view on transgender women participating in women’s sports seems close to Navratilova’s.
Navratilova herself came under fire for expressing said views. Maybe she hopes to restore her standing in the court of PC opinion by excoriating Margaret Court.
Navratilova and others are free to excoriate Court all they want. However, they are wrong to try to deny her honors as an athlete. A society that denies recognition to accomplished people in non-political arenas because they hold unpopular or non-PC opinions is an unhealthy society, and one with authoritarian tendencies.
Fortunately, Tennis Australia seems to be holding reasonably firm so far. As it stands now, Court will be recognized at the Australian Open, though she won’t present the trophy to the female winner, as she has done at times in the past. (Rod Laver, who achieved a calendar grand slam in men’s tennis, didn’t present the trophy to the male winner at last year’s Australian Open. As far as I can tell, this snub, if that’s what it was, wasn’t based on political or social opinions.)
We’ll know next week whether Court actually gets anything like the recognition her tennis accomplishments warrant.