Divisive tennis icon Margaret Court says she does not know if the 50th anniversary of her historic Grand Slam will be honoured at next year’s Australian Open.
Court, 77, has split opinion with her criticism of marriage equality and has not attended the tournament since 2017.
The all-time Grand Slam singles titles record holder has also faced calls for her name to be stripped from the title of Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne Park.
Tennis Australia celebrated fellow tennis legend Rod Laver’s 50th anniversary of his second singles Grand Slam – winning the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open in the same calendar year – earlier this year.
But Court said no-one from the sport’s national governing body had contacted her to say how or if her own achievements would be recognised.
‘They have never phoned me. Nobody has spoken to me directly about it. I think they would rather not confront it,’ she told The Age.
‘If they think I’m just going to turn up, I don’t think that is right. I think I should be invited.’
‘If they are not going to do that, I don’t really want to come.’
Court added she didn’t believe her stance against same-sex marriage should affect her legacy or the decision to name a court after her.
3AW host Neill Mitchell defended Court, saying her opinion on homosexuality did not mean she should be ‘bullied’ out of her place in tennis history.
‘She’s not saying gay people go to hell, like Israel Folau said — she has gay people within her church and says it’s their choice,’ he said on his radio show on Thursday morning.
‘But she’s got an opinion on gay marriage and now she’s being bullied out of her place in tennis history for that opinion.
‘Tennis Australia should set the standard here; they are caving in to this lobby group. They are frightened of the reaction to honouring a great player.
Social media commenters were split in their reaction to Court’s comments, with some applauding her for having the ‘backbone to speak her mind’.
‘Her religious views have nothing to do with her tennis achievements – why does anyone care what she thinks?’ one person wrote.
But others said her beliefs meant she was not due recognition by Tennis Australia.
The world’s most successful ever tennis player
Court has won a record 24 Grand Slam singles titles.
She completed what is known as the ‘Grand Slam’ in 1970 – which refers to winning all four major titles in one year.
She is also one of only three players in history to complete the ‘boxed set’ by winning the singles, doubles and mixed titles at all four major events.
She was inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame in 1993.
‘Maybe if she wants that kind of respect she needs to learn how to respect others even if she doesn’t agree with their choices,’ one commenter said.
‘If Margaret Court believes in the rights of institutions to exclude people at their discretion, she should respect Tennis Australia’s right to exclude her,’ another added.
She is the sport’s most successful player ever, with next year marking 50 years since she won all four major titles in 1970.
A Tennis Australia spokesman said it was deciding how it would mark Court’s achievement, but that her views did not align with theirs on equality, diversity and inclusion.
Court was an active voice in the campaign against same-sex marriage in 2017 – saying it was a ‘sad day for our nation’ when Australians voted ‘yes’ to marriage equality.
She has previously called out supporters of same-sex marriage for attempting to ruin major holidays and said tennis was a sport ‘full of lesbians’.
‘It’s not about marriage. It will affect Christian schools, it will affect freedom of speech,’ she told The West Australian in 2017.
‘There will be no Mother’s Day, there will be no Father’s Day, there will be no Easter, there will be no Christmas.’
In a radio appearance on Vision Christian Radio that year, she has also described homosexuality as a ‘lust for the flesh’.
‘That’s what Hitler did. That’s what communism did – get in the minds of the children,’ she said of the LGBTI movement.
‘There’s a whole plot in our nation and in the nations of the world to get in the minds of the children.’
Court is the spiritual leader of the Perth-based Pentecostal movement Victory Life she founded 25 years ago and a staunch supporter of the Liberal Party,
She is married to Barry Court – who was president of the party’s Western Australian branch between 2008 and 2011.
Her husband is the son of one of Australia’s most well-regarded conservative politicians and former WA premier Sir Charles Court.