Tennis stars won’t leave Court alone
Tennis star Andy Murray has called for the Australian Open to cut Margaret Court's name from the 2021 event because he says her views no longer represent the tennis community.
In a revealing interview where Murray provided a critical perspective on where the game has fallen short in its push to be a sport for people of all sexual orientations, Murray said he wants Tennis Australia, venue administrator Melbourne and Olympic Parks and the Victorian Government to remove Court's name before January's Open begins.
Court was in January honoured during a ceremony inside Rod Laver Arena to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 24-time champion's 1970 grand slam run.
Court was kept silent during the ceremony which involved Aussie tennis legend Rod Laver presenting her with a replica of the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup which she won at the 1970 Australian Open.
She received a lukewarm reception as she walked out into the middle of the stadium and later said she was a victim of discrimination after fellow tennis legends John McEnroe and 18-time Grand Slam champion Martina Navratilova delivered an on-court protest calling for Margaret Court Arena to be renamed. The pair held a sign which read, "Evonne Goolagong Arena".
While it remains unclear if Court will be a welcomed guest at the 2021 Aussie Open, her name being on the third biggest showcourt in Melbourne Park means drama appears certain to surround the 78-year-old even if she chooses not to attend.
Muray explained his position on the topic in an interview with Pride on Thursday where he admitted he hopes Court does not disrupt the tennis this summer.
He said her voice does not represent the views of her sport.
"Court was given a ceremony at the Australian Open this year to mark her achievements in the game, but the reception she received from the public was lukewarm," Murray told pridelife.com.
"She has obviously offended and upset a lot of people over the years. I think the players certainly have spoken up, which is a positive thing. As far as renaming the venue. I think that 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. When you get to the Australian Open you want to concentrate on the tennis. Court's views detract from that."
It's not the first time Murray has spoken out about Court's views.
In 2017, Murray dismissed Court after the evangelical pastor from Western Australia suggested she would boycott flying Qantas because of the airline's public support for the marriage equality referendum in 2017.
"I don't see why anyone has a problem with two people who love each other getting married," he said.
"If it's two men, two women, that's great. I don't see why it should matter. It's not anyone else's business.
"Everyone should have, in my opinion … the same rights."
They are views Murray still holds and the three-time grand slam champion believes his sport would be welcoming of a gay player on the ATP Tour.
"I'd be absolutely supportive of that," he said.
"I think it would be a really positive thing. Ultimately you want to get to the point where [coming out] is not a thing. I try to relate any advice I give to what I would tell my own children and I hate to think that anyone would hide who they are or think they couldn't be who they were for fear of getting abused. I would be absolutely supportive if any of the athletes we work with wanted to come out."
He said tennis still has some distance to come to create a level playing field for homosexual players on the Tour.
"I think as a sport you just have to be as inclusive as possible, and have more diverse people on boards and committees," he said.
"We need to create a culture where everyone's voice is heard. But I do think it helps when, on the women's tour, some of the biggest names ever to have played are gay, it becomes acceptable, not something that anyone feels they have to shy away or hide from. I think in men's sport it's been a much slower process than it has been on the women's side."
Originally published as Tennis stars won't leave Court alone