“I think they think because I’m a preacher I’m going to preach the gospel but I would never do that,” Court told Channel Nine News. “There is a time to speak and a time to not.
“They [Tennis Australia] have pointed the finger at me and tried to discriminate in everything that I’ve done, and I think that’s very sad.”
TA released a detailed statement in response to Court’s complaints, saying it had done a huge amount to ensure she and her family were comfortable and safe during the tournament and to recognise her “unmatched” tennis achievements, treating her as a “high-profile VIP guest”.
TA said the ceremony was similar to what was done for Rod Laver on the 50th anniversary of his second grand slam, in 2019, and that Court had been invited to speak at a Legends Lunch and the Open’s premium hospitality area.
“Tennis Australia invited Margaret and Barry Court, along with 16 members of their family, to the two weeks of the Australian Open. TA covered the cost of flights, accommodation, breakfasts and executive club access, for the family, along with hospitality at the event, which included more than 100 tickets over the two weeks,” the statement said.
“Margaret agreed to all these arrangements … prior to her arrival in Melbourne. We are very disappointed to hear now of her complaints, none of which were expressed to us during her time at the Australian Open.
“In addition Margaret and Barry attended ‘O’, the premium hospitality and seating area at the AO, at least eight times during the tournament, with the entire family of 16, including her children, their partners and her grandchildren, hosted on the night of her anniversary, Monday 27 January. In total, Margaret and Barry had 20 guests in ‘O’ for dinner and premium seating, along with an additional 26 tickets for family and friends in Rod Laver Arena on the night of the ceremony.”
TA’s careful handling of Court’s milestone erupted the day after the ceremony when former greats Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe launched a protest calling for her name to be erased from Margaret Court Arena and replaced with that of Evonne Goolagong.
“I’d never go to another nation, whatever I thought of a person, I would never say, ‘Hey, you should take their name off a building, or off an arena, or a tennis centre.’ I would never do that,” Court said.
“I think that was very, very wrong.”
Tennis Australia admonished McEnroe and Navratilova for their protest.
McEnroe had also described Court as a “nightmare for Tennis Australia” and a “crazy aunt”, following her controversial comments about homosexuality.
“I always thought I got on quite well with John McEnroe and I’ve always respected him, and it really surprised me that he came out like that,” Court said.
“I feel sorry for him that he speaks like that and he can’t separate one part of life to another.”
In 2011 Court said homosexuality was an “abominable sexual practice”. She teaches at the Victory Life Centre church in Perth that marriage is between a man and a woman, and a child needs a mother and a father.
Court also said she reached out to Navratilova to have a one-on-one meeting before her on-court protest, but it never eventuated. In 1990 Court said Navratilova was a great player, but “it’s very sad for children to be exposed to homosexuality”.