Tennis champions Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova have slammed comments made by Australian tennis legend Margaret Court, who last week condemned the push for marriage equality, saying she wanted to “protect families”.
Court, who is the founder and senior pastor at the Pentecostal Victory Life Church in Perth, urged Australians to make a stand against same-sex marriage, saying no human law could ever change God’s divine law.
The nearly 70 year-old Rev. Court managed to invoke a little Lady Gaga in her recent anti-gay rant.
"The fact that the homosexual cry is, 'We can't help it as we were born this way', as the cause behind their own personal choice is cause for concern. Every action begins with a thought. There is a choice to be made,” she told The West Australian.
Court's remarks drew fire not just from readers, who took to their Twitter accounts to lambaste her, but from her former colleagues Navratilova and King, who are both openly gay.
“I respectfully disagree with Margaret’s position on gay marriage. We have to commit to eliminating homophobia because everyone is entitled to the same rights, opportunities and protection,” King told Tennis Channel columnist James LaRosa for his post "Courting Hate".
“Seems to me a lot of people have evolved as has the Bible, unfortunately Margaret Court has not,” Navratilova added. " Her myopic view is truly frightening as well as damaging to the thousands of children already living in same gender families. I have tried to talk to Margaret, but to say she’s completely close-minded on the issue is an understatement.”
Margaret Court Arena via Flickr
It’s not the first time Court has openly bashed homosexuality. She has fought against legislation in Australia that would afford some rights to LGBT people and famously accused Navratilova and other lesbian and bisexual players of ruining the sport and being a bad influence on young players.
Largely regarded as the greatest female tennis player of all time, Court began her reign on the tennis courts in the late sixties and and went on to win 62 major titles overall, In 1970, she became the first woman during the open era and the second woman in history to win all four Grand Slam tournament singles titles in the same calendar year. She won the Australian Open a record 11 times and now the former Show Court One at Melbourne Park is named Margaret Court Arena.
With the Australian Open just over a month away, Court’s anti-gay statements will be fresh on the minds of viewers, many of whom will question whether it's appropriate for the stadium to be named after someone who participates in such hate speech. The arena was named after Court for her tennis success, not her social views, but her remarks are proof that champions on the court aren't necessarily champions in life.
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