The australian Margaret Court, a living tennis legend, assured that he will not return the award Companion of the General Division of the Order of Australia (AC) that was awarded this week, within the framework of the national holiday of that country, despite the controversy that was generated when it was known that he would receive that distinction.
“I will not return it, because I love to represent my nation. I was not the one who looked for it, I did not know I was receiving it, I felt very honored when they told me they were giving it to me,” said the 78-year-old former tennis player in statements to Australian radio station 3AW.
The top Grand Slams winner in history (24) has been heavily criticized in recent years for her homophobic statements and opinions on LGBTQ + issues. That is why the news that she would be recognized with the highest honor awarded in the oceanic country was not well received by many of her compatriots.
Court has come under fire in recent years for his homophobic and anti-LGBTQ + statements. Photo REUTERS / Hannah Mckay
One of those who expressed dissatisfaction was Daniel Andrews, Prime Minister of the State of Victoria, who recalled his “scandalous” and “hurtful” views of the past.
“I don’t support this. I don’t think she has views that identify with the vast majority of people in our nation, particularly the LGBTQ + community,” Andrews said. “I love people, and I love homosexuals and transgender people,” he stressed.
Court, who has served as a Pentecostal minister in Perth since her retirement from the courts, had been made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2007, a lesser honor. And in this 2021, the government of the oceanic country decided to grant him a promotion.
“I was appointed Officer of the Order for my involvement in the distribution of 75 tons of food in my neighborhood per week,” explained the former player. “Now it’s because of my tennis career, I think it’s been a long time coming and I’m honored,” she added.
The Australian has been criticized several times in the past for having praised the Apartheid system in South Africa, declaring that tennis is “full of lesbians” or that transgender children are “the work of the devil”.
Margaret Court and American Billie Jean King, one of the former tennis players who criticized her in the past for her homophobic opinions.
His opinions were criticized by several current figures on the circuit, but also by other former tennis players such as Martina Navratilova, Billie jean king and John McEnroe.
However, Court assured that the media has misrepresented some of his statements in recent years. “I feel like we have become so leftist that we are not allowed to say anything about our traditional values,” he said.
Last Friday, after the news leaked that he would receive this new award, Court said: “All my life I have had those views and I was only saying what the Bible says. I have nothing against people, I love the People. We make them come to our community services, of all kinds, be they gay, transgender, whatever. “
“We never reject a person and I think they have tried to show that I am someone that I am not really. And I think it is very sad,” he added.
Margaret Court Arena was named after the winner of 24 “greats.” Photo EFE / EPA / ROMAN PILIPEY
It is not the first time that the former player has generated controversy after receiving an award. The Margaret Court Arena, one of the most important courts in the Melbourne Park tennis center, home of the Australian Open, was named in his honor and that decision also raised problems. Furthermore, in recent years, there have been many requests for that name to be changed.
The Australian holds the historical record for Grand Slam titles with 24. She has won the Australian Open eleven times, five Roland Garros, three Wimbledon and another five at the US Open. American Serena Williams will seek to match that mark when she plays the first Grand Slam of this 2021, from February 8.