Margaret Court outside her home in City Beach, Perth.
Margaret Court outside her home in City Beach, Perth.

McEnroe rips Tennis Australia over ‘crazy aunt’ Court

Tennis legend John McEnroe has panned Tennis Australia's handling of its "crazy aunt" Margaret Court at this year's Australian Open.

Court, who won 24 grand slam titles and all four slams in 1970, will be acknowledged on the 50-year anniversary of her achievement - achieved only three times in women's tennis - in a ceremony before the blockbuster fourth-clash between Nick Kyrgios and Rafael Nadal tonight.

Australian tennis immortal Rod Laver, the only player in history to twice win all four majors in the same season (1962 and '69), will present Court with a full-size replica of the Australian Open trophy.

The ceremony, to be held on Rod Laver Arena, marks the 50th anniversary of Court's grand slam sweep.

Court, 77, is the most prolific winner of grand slam titles in history. Apart from a record 24 singles crowns - one more than Serena Williams owns - Court also landed 21 mixed doubles and 19 doubles titles. The serve-volleyer's record would have been even more imposing had she not retired mid-career.

She is one of only three mothers to win major singles titles, returning to the sport in 1973 to land the Australian, French and US titles after losing in the Wimbledon semi-finals.

Evonne Goolagong and Kim Clijsters are the only other women to snare a major after becoming a mother.

Court and about 60 members of her extended family from NSW and WA will at Melbourne Park tonight for the ceremony as guests of Tennis Australia.

 

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Outspoken tennis champion Margaret Court.
Outspoken tennis champion Margaret Court.

Tennis Australia took the unusual step of denouncing her outspoken anti-LGBTIQ views in a press release before the Open started, stating: "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. They do not align with our values of equality, diversity and inclusion."

But McEnroe said Tennis Australia was trying to thread an impossible needle.

"The air quality in Melbourne is not the only nightmare that Tennis Australia is having. Margaret Court is another one," he said on his Commissioner of Tennis Twitter video.

"There's only one thing longer than a list of Margaret Court's tennis achievements - it's her list of offensive and homophobic statements."

After recounting some of her offensive public statements, including supporting South Africa's apartheid regime and labelling gay and transgender children the work of the devil, McEnroe said: "Margaret Court is actually a ventriloquist using the Bible of the dummy to say whatever she wants.

"Tennis Australia is facing a dilemma - what do they do with their crazy aunt?"

Its solution? "We will recognise what she did in 1970 but we won't celebrate the person. Huh? It doesn't work that way. You can't separate the person from her achievements," McEnroe said.

"Look at me. If you recognise the fact that I won seven grand slams, guess what? You've gotta celebrate the fact that I had the loudest mouth in the history of the tennis tour.

"Serena (Williams), do me a favour, win some 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."


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