As a tennis lover, what springs to mind when you hear the name Margaret Court – Tennis Royalty? One of the main courts at Melbourne Park, the home of the Australian Open Tennis tournament? 24-time Grand Slam champion and overall record holder?
That would normally sum it up, but at the age of 74, the former tennis great and now pastor, is finding herself in a lot of hot water following her recent comments about same-sex marriages, homosexuals and transgenders.
This has understandably sparked outrage from several past and present tennis players and the public alike, some of who are now calling for the Margaret Court Arena to be renamed before the Australian Open Tennis tournament gets underway in 2018.
I went to the Australian Open for the first time this year and as a tennis lover, I was like a kid in a candy store. I spent five blessed days at the tournament – got photos, video footage and selfies with several players and was extremely privileged to not only watch the Ladies Singles final live, but also to have had the opportunity to chat to both Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong Cawley after the match, and take selfies with them.
Out of all the selfies I took, the one with Margaret Court, whom I consider as Tennis Royalty, meant the most to me.
So, when a friend asked me today if I was going to tear up the photo, I didn’t hesitate to answer, “No”.
I do however feel that as much as what Margaret Court has the right to voice her opinion, there has to be a line drawn. Her statements are damaging and someone in her position, should know better. It ultimately doesn’t matter what our opinion of others is, God has the final say and each one of us has our own personal relationship with God.
On the other hand, it is a stark reminder that Margaret Court is only a human being and with that comes human judgement, especially when someone’s opinion differs to ours.
I also follow several past and present tennis players on social media, some of whom have lashed out at Margaret Court. They too are very passionate about matters close to their hearts and also express their varied opinions, which are not always in agreement with others.
Having followed this story closely since her Qantas statement, I am concerned about how this is going to play out.
Margaret Court is not likely to apologise or retract her statements, and if she does, it will only be under duress, so that will be largely pointless.
Those who feel aggrieved are also not likely to turn a blind eye.
The Australian Tennis Federation is now also in the spotlight with mounting pressure to change the court name, which I personally think it totally unnecessary. Let’s not forget the reason why the court was named after her in the first place.
Players, who should be concentrating on the French Open, are now also being dragged into the controversy. Again, so unnecessary.
Apart from this, there is the social media and sensational media seeking aspects, both which seem to come with more problems than solutions.
My wish is that this matter will either be amicably laid to rest or a “Mexican standoff” declared, and that going forward, everyone, especially those in high profile positions, will take a few moments to consider the impact of what a controversial or hurtful statement will have on others. The same also applies to those who choose to react to the statements. We will ultimately all contribute to the outcome of the situation.