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Navratilova, McEnroe blast 'homophobic' Court
Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe lined up to criticise Margaret Court's "homophobic" views on Monday as the Australian Open marked 50 years since the controversial tennis great's 1970 calendar-year Grand Slam.
Melbourne : Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe lined up to criticise Margaret Court's "homophobic" views on Monday as the Australian Open marked 50 years since the controversial tennis great's 1970 calendar-year Grand Slam.
Navratilova said the devout Christian's deeply conservative views were "actually hurting people", while fellow American legend McEnroe called Court a "crazy aunt".
Court, 77, the all-time record-holder for Grand Slam titles, and one of only five players to win all four Majors in the same year, received a replica Australian Open women's trophy in a brief ceremony from Rod Laver in the stadium named after him.
"With me, what you see is what you get," she said during a video tribute that was played at the centre court, next door to Melbourne Park's 7,500-seat Margaret Court Arena.
In retirement, Court, now a church pastor and based in Perth, Western Australia, has often attracted controversy over her views on race and homosexuality.
The Australian once praised South Africa's apartheid system, said "tennis is full of lesbians" and described transgender children as "the work of the devil".
When Tennis Australia agreed to mark the Grand Slam anniversary, the governing body stressed it "does not agree with Court's personal views, which have demeaned and hurt many in our community over a number of years".
"There's only one thing longer than the list of Margaret Court's list of achievements: it's her list of offensive and homophobic statements," McEnroe said in a video for Eurosport.
"Margaret Court is actually a ventriloquist, using the Bible as a dummy to say whatever she wants," added the seven-time Grand Slam winner.
WTA founder Billie Jean King is one senior figure to call for Margaret Court Arena to be renamed, and Navratilova is also a frequent critic.