Andy Murray spoke out against Margaret Court (Jordan Mansfield/Morgan Hancock/Getty)
Andy Murray has joined calls for the Margaret Court Arena, home of the Australian Open, to be stripped of the controversial athlete’s name, as her homophobic values are at odds with “what tennis stands for”.
Margaret Court, 78, has faced heavy criticism for her offensive anti-LGBT+ comments, which include calling homosexuality an “abominable sexual practice”, likening gay people to Hitler, saying transgender children are “of the devil” and that lesbian tennis players “recruit” younger athletes.
Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray added his voice to that of several other senior tennis figures in stating that her incredible sporting record does not excuse her harmful views.
“When you get to the Australian Open you want to concentrate on the tennis. Court’s views detract from that,” the star told Pride Life.
“As far as renaming the venue … yes, it’s something the sport should consider. I don’t know who makes the final decision on that but I don’t think her values are what tennis stands for.”
The question of if and how Margaret Court should be commemorated arose earlier this year when the 50th anniversary of her quadruple Grand Slam victory was celebrated in a ceremony at the Australian Open.
Tennis Australia treaded carefully around the matter, acknowledging Court’s sporting achievements but making clear that it rejected her “demeaning” personal views on same-sex marriage and homosexuality.
The move offended Court, who later complained that the tennis governing body discriminated against her because she wasn’t allowed to give a speech at the event.
“I think they said they were going to honour me but not celebrate me because of my stance and my views on gay marriage and all of those areas, and I’ve got nothing against people,” the 2018 Homophobe of the Year told Australia’s Nine Network.
But the fact that such a controversial figure had been recognised at all, and at such a prominent tournament, caused significant unrest within the world of tennis.
Former champions Martina Navratilova (whose own legacy has been tainted by her opposition to trans inclusion in sport) and John McEnroe were among the many people calling for Court’s name to be stripped from the stadium, and the pair conspicuously staged a protest during one of the matches.
Murray noted that Court received a “lukewarm” reception from the public at the Australian Open.
“She has obviously offended and upset a lot of people over the years,” he added. “I think the players certainly have spoken up, which is a positive thing.”