Pastor and former Australian tennis champion Margaret Court says she has been the target of a hate campaign since publicly speaking out against gay marriage.
The 70-year-old made headlines around the world in December after saying marriage should be between a man and woman, and was criticised by openly gay tennis stars including Rennae Stubbs and Billie Jean King.
Gay activists launched a Facebook campaign asking Australian Open spectators to wear rainbow colours and wave flags at the show court named after the former player on Friday.
Court, a former World number one tennis player who was the first woman to win all four Grand Slam tournament titles, said she loved gay people and even worked with them.
“But what concerns me so much is the amount of hatred that has been directed at me,” she said.
Court said she did not intend to attack the gay community but instead was trying to plea for the nation to retain its morals.
The 69-year-old Court, an 11-time Australian Open champion who is now a Christian pastor, caused a stir before this year’s tournament when she told media in Western Australia that “politically correct education has masterfully escorted homosexuality out from behind closed doors, into the community openly and now is aggressively demanding marriage rights that are not theirs to take.”
Navratilova was gracious when talking about the venue and scheduling of her opening match.
“Playing on Margaret Court Arena, it’s an honor, as always, to be on that court,” Navratilova said. “You know, it’s not a personal issue. Clearly Margaret Court’s views that she has expressed on same sex marriage, I think are outdated.
“But it’s not about any one person. It’s not about religious rights, it’s about human rights. It’s a secular view, not a religious view.”
Navratilova said she hadn’t spoken to Court for years.
What do you think about Margaret Court’s views?