Margaret Court sure knows how to put her foot in it, not just once but multiple times. Opinions are like ‘you know what’, everyone has got one. In this age of Political discourse gone bezerk having an opinion on just about anything can be a dangerous game. On social media you’ll be vilified one way or another, and being on the ‘correct’ side of any issue is in the eye of the keyboard warrior.
Margaret’s views on homosexuality as being an ungodly “lust for the flesh” and her letter to the West Australian newspaper protesting Casey Dellacqua’s decision in 2013 to have a child with her partner Amanda Judd are on the wrong side of not only public opinion, but also with current tennis pros and former champions like John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova.
In light of all this Tennis Australia is now under pressure to rename the tennis arena named after Margaret Court as talk of a player boycott at next year’s Australian Open is gaining momentum. I understand all of this talk; solidarity amongst players can be a powerful tool, especially when somebody as popular as Casey is being unfairly targeted, but not playing on Margaret Court arena is wrong, its an opportunity missed for the LGBT movement.
Let me be clear, I don’t agree with Margaret one bit, I think gay marriage should be legalized and Government’s around the world should put the issue up for a vote and let their citizens decide, I’m not religious, I’m not big on the institution of marriage but for Margaret to state on the birth of Casey’s child “…it is with sadness that I see that this baby has seemingly been deprived of his father” is ridiculous.
But is it a reason to boycott a stadium bearing her name? The answer is no. I’ve tried to put myself in Casey’s shoes, I live in a world of the minorities, being disabled brings it’s own form of discrimination and ‘we’ have to put up with our own form of ‘old world’ crap from some people. As a former tennis player how would I have felt if I was likely to play on a stadium bearing the name of a Champion who came out and said “wheelchair tennis should be left on the public courts, they have no place in Grand Slams, the disabled should know their place”.
Would I have felt angry? You bet. Would I have lost all respect for the person who said that? Yes I would. But what better way is there than to go out there on that stadium that bears the name of the person who has ‘slighted’ you and compete as hard as you can. To show them that their way of thinking will not win and I will do what I do best on the very court that bears their name.
My coach Rich Berman always said “be prepared to play anywhere at anytime”, meaning never feel slighted because of a court assignment, if they put you on court 17, Centre court or in the car park, who cares, you’ve got to be prepared to battle no matter what. Nobody is ‘honoring’ Margaret Court by playing in her arena. If I was Casey, Sam Stosur or any other player who felt aggrieved by Margaret’s comments I’d request to play in her arena, instead of boycotting it I’d take it head on.
Instead of wanting Tennis Australia to rename the stadium turn it into a beacon of equal rights for Gays and Lesbians, fill the stadium with rainbow flags, mobilize the community to make sure that every match played on Margaret Court arena during the Australian Open becomes a symbol of what you’re trying to achieve, don’t turn it into a ghost town, turn it into a vehicle that furthers the movement.