’Racist grandpa’: Court slammed again


Journalist Gideon Haigh has anointed tennis legend Margaret Court the "racist grandpa" of Australian sport after lashing Tennis Australia earlier in the week.

Court won all four majors in 1970 and finished her career with 24 grand slam singles titles - the most in history - but has sparked controversy in recent years with her outspoken opposition to same-sex marriage.

Gay marriage in Australia was legalised after the plebiscite in 2017 but Court disagrees with it on religious grounds because the Bible says marriage should be between a man and a woman.

The 77-year-old has been hounded for her views with plenty demanding the court honouring her at Melbourne Park have its name changed.

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But Court demanded that Tennis Australia celebrate her Grand Slam triumph in a similar way to legend Rod Laver has been celebrated at all the majors in recognition of him winning the Grand Slam in 1969.

"I think Tennis Australia should sit and talk with me," Court told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. "They have never phoned me. Nobody has spoken to me directly about it. I think they would rather not confront it."

READ MORE: Margaret Court's call-out of Tennis Australia

But speaking on ABC's Offsiders this morning, Haigh discussed varying perceptions of the former World No.1 after Court called for the Australian tennis community to show her more respect.

"Margaret Court is tennis' racist grandpa at Christmas," Haigh said. "She's a bit embarrassing, but, you know, you still love your grandpa and it is Christmas."


Despite his quip, Haigh argued that Court's achievements should still be celebrated regardless her controversial opinions.

"Court is a very great champion. She won more Grand Slams than (Rod) Laver; she's been comparatively underrecognised too, because so has women's sport," said Haigh.

"You might find her opinions antediluvian, but if we anathematised every great athlete who had unfortunate opinions, opinions that we disagree with or an unattractive personality, then we might not have too many left, frankly."

The 53-year-old journalist suggested that Court's tennis career should be recognised because of its significance towards the growth of women's sport in Australia.

"She was in her era one of only a handful of women who reminded Australians that women can compete in sport, and not just compete, but excel," Haigh said.

"She has, quite rightly, I think, a Champion's pride in that."


Margaret Court has been a controversial figure in Australian tennis since her comments on same-sex marriage in 2017.
Margaret Court has been a controversial figure in Australian tennis since her comments on same-sex marriage in 2017.

Tennis Australia said it was "in the process" of working out how Court's milestone would be recognised with her comments diverging from the values of the sport's governing body in Australia.

"As previously stated, Tennis Australia recognises the tennis achievements of Margaret Court, although her views do not align with our values of equality, diversity and inclusion," a spokeswoman for Tennis Australia told Nine.

Earlier in the week, Triple M Sydney's breakfast program Lawrence Mooney heavily condemned Court on Thursday.

"If you're homophobic there's no space for you in public life," Mooney said.

"Discriminating about sexuality is a crime, so it is legislated against.

"Margaret Court's opinions on same sex marriage and sexuality are abhorrent and she should be hounded out of the sport until she falls into line."

Court won 24 Grand Slam singles titles, the most of any player in history, male or female. She also holds the record for most Australian Open titles, with 11.

Margaret Court won all four majors in 1970.
Margaret Court won all four majors in 1970.

The Australian Fed Cup team have kept mum on the situation with team captain Alicia Molik explaining why.

"I read the article but players are under instructions to tick the 'no newspaper' column when they check in at the hotel," Molik said.

"I don't think anything out there or anything in the media, any particular headline, can really distract us from what we're trying to achieve this weekend."

Court has not attended the Australian Open since 2017, when she was heavily criticised after voicing her opposition to same-sex marriage.