January 24, 2019 19:09:28
Vogue magazine editor-in-chief Anna Wintour has used a speech at an Australian Open event to call for the Margaret Court Arena to be renamed, in light of the tennis star’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
- Retired tennis champion Margaret Court has been a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage
- Anna Wintour said Margaret Court’s name was inconsistent with an arena that brought people together across their differences
- Court says calls for the arena to be renamed are a threat to religious freedom
Delivering the keynote address at the Australian Open’s Inspirational Series in Melbourne today, Wintour said when Australia passed same-sex marriage in 2017, “the world sang in celebration” with it.
“It is inconsistent for the sport for Margaret Court’s name to be on a stadium that does so much to bring all people together across their differences,” she said.
“This much I think is clear to anyone who understands the spirit and the joy of the game.
“Intolerance has no place in tennis. What we love [is] watching these remarkable men and women exceed themselves while being themselves in many different forms.
“Margaret Court was a champion on the court but a meeting point for players of all nations, preferences, and backgrounds should celebrate somebody who was a champion off the court as well,” Wintour said.
Latest volley in long-running debate
The Margaret Court Arena at Melbourne Park was named after Court in 2003 in recognition of her trailblazing tennis career in which she won a record-breaking 24 grand-slam singles titles.
Court, who is now a pastor at Victory Life Church in Perth, attracted fierce criticism from LGBTIQ allies in 2017 when she wrote an open letter stating she would boycott Qantas over its support of same-sex marriage.
The 76-year-old wrote that she believed in the traditional definition of marriage as stated in the Bible and that the airline had left her “no option but to use other airlines [where] possible for my extensive travelling”.
She had also formerly written a letter in the West Australian newspaper expressing sadness that Australian tennis player Casey Dellacqua’s then-newborn child would be “deprived of his father”.
Her comments sparked a backlash from several women’s tennis players around the world, with American tennis great Billie Jean King adding her support to calls for the Margaret Court Arena to be renamed.
She said comments from her friend Margaret Court blaming the devil for people being transgender has “put her over the edge”.
Calls to rename arena a threat to religious freedom: Court
Reacting to Wintour’s comments today, Court said her views on homosexuality had been misunderstood.
“All is said is what the bible said,” Court said.
“I have nothing against homosexual people.
“If they choose to be gay, that’s fine.
“I have them in my church — they come every Sunday.
“They’ve been doing the flowers in the church for 14 years, and they’re my biggest fans.”
Court said calls for the arena to be renamed was “another example of freedom of religion being under threat”.
“I should be able to have my say as a minister of the Gospel,” she said.
“I believe I shouldn’t be bullied for what I did in my past.”
January 24, 2019 18:20:29