Australian Open 2020: John McEnroe condemns ‘homophobic’ Margaret Court to ‘past where she belongs’

Tom Kershaw
The Independent
John McEnroe is commentating at the Australian Open this week: Getty
John McEnroe is commentating at the Australian Open this week: Getty

John McEnroe has condemned Margaret Court’s “offensive and homophobic” views in a three-minute monologue, and said he hopes Serena Williams surpasses the Australian’s all-time Grand Slam title record to leave the 77-year-old “in the past where she belongs”.

Tennis Australia, the country’s national governing body, is set to hold a presentation ceremony on Monday to commemorate Court winning all four major titles in 1970.

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Court, who won 24 Grand Slams in total, has been widely criticised for her religious-based views on same-sex marriage and LGBT+ rights. And speaking on Eurosport, McEnroe said: “The air quality in Melbourne is not the only nightmare that Tennis Australia is having, Margaret Court is another.

“For those of you who still have their teeth, don’t use a hearing aid and don’t go to the bathroom three times a night, let the self-appointed commissioner of tennis tell you who she is.

“Margaret Court is an Australian singles player who won a record 24 singles Grand Slam titles and all four of them in 1970. She also has the second biggest court in Melbourne Park named after her.

“There’s only one thing longer than Margaret Court’s list of achievements, it’s her list of offensive and homophobic statements.

“Just a few examples: During the apartheid regime in South Africa, she said ‘I love South Africa, they have the racial situation better organised than anyone else’.

“About transgender children and LGBTIQ: It’s ‘all the work of the devil’. ‘Tennis is full of lesbians’; ‘it’s sad for children to be exposed to homosexuality’.

“Margaret Court is actually a ventriloquist using the bible of the dummy to say whatever she wants.

“This year marks the 50th anniversary of Margaret Court’s calendar Grand Slam and Tennis Australia is facing a dilemma: what to do with their crazy aunt?

“They finally decided to invite her but it came with a twist. ‘We will recognise what she did in 1970, but we won’t celebrate the person’. Huh? Well it doesn’t work that way. You can’t separate the person from their achievements. Look at me, if you recognised the fact I won seven Grand Slams, guess what, then you have to celebrate the fact I had the loudest mouth in the history of the tennis tour.

Margaret Court claimed transgender people are controlled ‘by the devil’ (Getty)
Margaret Court claimed transgender people are controlled ‘by the devil’ (Getty)

“To the credit of Tennis Australia, Margaret Court’s tribute is counterbalanced by the organisation fo the biggest LGBTIQ tennis tournament in the world at Melbourne Park. Organisers call it the Glam Slam, Margaret would probably call it hell on earth. Oh, and they also installed gender-neutral toilets in the Rod Laver Arena. What do you think she’d say if she had to use them?

“Thanks but I’ll hold on until I get home. Good luck Margaret...she lives in Perth.

“Serena, do me a favour, get two more Grand Slams this year and get to 25 so we can leave Margaret Court and her offensive views in the past where they both belong.”

Tennis Australia had insisted the body does not agree with Court’s views in a statement released in November last year.

“As often stated, Tennis Australia does not agree with Court’s personal views, which have demeaned and hurt many in our community over a number of years,” it said in a statement. ”They do not align with our values of equality, diversity and inclusion.”

Court holds the all-time record for most singles Grand Slams (Getty)
Court holds the all-time record for most singles Grand Slams (Getty)

The Australian Open’s chief executive Craig Tiley also sought to distance the ceremony from Court’s views, saying that the presentation is “for her tennis achievements only”.

“First of all, we’ve said from the outset that we will recognise what Margaret accomplished back in 1970 when she won all four grand slams,” he said. “And there’s a difference between a recognition of that and a celebration of someone.”

Court, who is a Christian Pastor at Perth’s Victory Life church, launched into a tirade against transgender athletes and claimed the inclusion of LGBT+-related material at schools was the work of the “devil” during a sermon last month.

Court has been an outspoken critic of homosexuality and same-sex marriage for decades, with Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova among those to have called for the eponymous show court at Melbourne Park to be renamed.

Court is one of only three women to complete the calendar Grand Slam – alongside Maureen Connolly and Steffi Graf – while fellow Australian Rod Laver was recognised last year, 50 years after completing the feat for the second time in 1969.

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