Thursday June 1 2017
An open letter from Martina Navratilova to Margaret Court Arena
By Martina Navratilova
Dear Margaret Court Arena,
Sporting venues named for athletes, or any place, really, named for whoever, are so named for one reason. That reason is their whole body of work. In other words, it is not just for what this person did on the field, on the court, in politics, arts or science, for instance, but also for who they are as human beings.
When you were named after Margaret Court, it seemed like the right thing to do. After all, Rod Laver already had the big stadium and Court is one of the all-time greats. I had long ago forgiven Court for her headline-grabbing comments in 1990 when she said I was a bad role model because I was a lesbian.
What I did not know about until now were the unabashed racist statements she made in the '70s about apartheid in South Africa. Saying that South Africa dealt with the "situation" (meaning people of colour) much better than anywhere else in the world, particularly the US: what exactly did she mean by that?
Martina Navratilova says it's time for a name change to Margaret Court Arena. (AP)
Fast forward to today and Court's announcement of her boycott of Qantas because of its chief executive's support of same-sex marriage, which basically means support for the LGBT community in general. That was bad enough. Now she is doubling down with her ridiculous comments about older women luring young girls on the tour to parties to turn them into lesbians [Scroll down to read]. It's a good thing she didn't name anyone as I am pretty sure she would be sued for defamation.
It is now clear exactly who Court is: an amazing tennis player, and a racist and a homophobe. Her vitriol is not just an opinion. She is actively trying to keep LGBT people from getting equal rights (note to Court: we are human beings, too). She is demonising trans kids and trans adults everywhere.
And now, linking LGBT to Nazis, communists, the devil? This is not OK. This is in fact sick and it is dangerous. Kids will suffer more because of this continuous bashing and stigmatising of our LGBT community.
How much blood will be on Margaret's hands because kids will continue to get beaten for being different? This is not OK. Too many will die by suicide because of this kind of intolerance, this kind of bashing and yes, this kind of bullying. This is not OK.
Court has said homosexuality was an ungodly "lust for the flesh" and that LGBT tendencies in young people were "all the devil". (AP)
We celebrate free speech, but that doesn't mean it is free of consequences - not punishment, but consequences.
We should not be celebrating this kind of behaviour, this kind of philosophy. The platform people like Margaret Court use needs to be made smaller, not bigger.
Which is why I think it's time to change your name. And I think the Evonne Goolagong Arena has a great ring to it. Now there is a person we can all celebrate. On every level.
Yours, Martina Navratilova
Wednesday May 31 2017
'The devil's after our kids': Margaret Court's second serve
By Greg Baum
Far from modifying her denouncement of gay marriage, tennis champion Margaret Court has broadened it, saying that it was causing huge problems in countries where it was legalised, that homosexuality was an ungodly "lust for the flesh" and that LGBT tendencies in young people were "all the devil".
"That's what Hitler did. That's what communism did," Court said, "get in the minds of the children. There's a whole plot in our nation and in the nations of the world to get in the minds of the children."
Radio rambling: Margaret Court says homosexuality is an ungodly "lust for the flesh" and that LGBT tendencies in young people are "all the devil". (Vince Caligiuri)
In the face of polls that show 65 per cent of Australians support gay marriage, Court said: "We know the statistics are very, very wrong. They're after our young ones, that's what they're after."
Court was speaking on Vision Christian Radio, elaborating on a previous letter to the West Australian and an appearance on The Project in which she said she would boycott Qantas from now on because of chief executive Alan Joyce's backing for gay marriage.
Court's issue has become Tennis Australia's problem. Calls for her name to be removed from the No.3 stadium at Melbourne Park after her first broadside had seemed excessive. But a series of players, when asked at the French Open, have criticised Court and Sam Stosur, Australia's No.1-ranked woman, has raised the possibility of a player boycott of Margaret Court Arena. Andy Murray, the world No.1-ranked man, said Tennis Australia would be wise to sort it out long before January's Australian Open.
Court, 74, is pastor at the Victory Life Centre in Perth. She said she was driven to speak out by an open, but little-publicised letter written by Queensland businessman Stuart Ballantyne, also condemning Qantas and Joyce for his gay marriage stance, linking it to Qantas' decline as a business on Joyce's watch, affecting "customer franchise and investor returns".
"This week, I have come off a Qantas flight from the US, and the plane is best described as old and shabby," Ballantyne wrote. "It needs to be clear that the personal crusade of the CEO has not impacted on the extraordinarily poor performance of the national carrier during his tenure."
Court's radio elaboration was rambling and syncopated. "It's very sad that they would use my tennis for something that is a now thing," she said, overlooking that it was her tennis that gained her a public platform in the first instance and that she was repeatedly acclaimed by the interviewer as "the greatest tennis player in history".
She said the gay lobby was a minority, yet somehow was bullying the majority. She said she had nothing against gay people, who could do as they pleased, except marry in the Christian tradition. But she also said homosexuality was a sin. "So is adultery. So is fornication," she said. "All those things are a lust for the flesh. We know it's not God. They know it, too."
In America, she said "92 per cent were abused sexually or emotionally when they were young even to be this way".
Tennis was full of lesbians, she said. In her day, there were only "a couple", but they were disproportionately influential. "They took the young ones to parties and things," she said.
Schoolchildren who struggled with their sexual identities must have been raised by parents who "don't care", surmised Court. She said she was a tomboy who liked to wear shorts and could kick a footy, prompting her mother to say: "You should have been a boy." But she never had any doubt.
"If you feel like being a girl, you can dress like a girl," mused Court. "What confusion to a child. I get confused talking about it. You can think, 'I'm a boy', and it affects your emotions and feelings and everything else. That's all the devil."
In her tennis-playing day, there was Renee Richards, a man who became a woman, "not a very good player".
Court said God's law on gay marriage was as clear and unambiguous as a policeman flagging down a car. "You pray there is enough people who will stand up and flag this nation down," she said. "And say, no, we are not going the way of some other nations, because they are having so many problems."
A caller hailed Court as "a prophetess, a judge", anointed by God, but "To link same-sex marriage champions to Nazism and the Holocaust is "profoundly offensive, betrays an utter lack of understanding of the historical truth and only fans the flames of hatred and demonisation", says Dr Dvir Abramovich, chairman of civil rights group the Anti-Defamation commission. "This absolute lack of compassion also insults the memory of the victims, which included gay people, as well as survivors and all those Diggers who fought against the Nazis," he said. "We urge Margaret Court to apologise for appalling and hurtful rhetoric."