Margaret Court’s discussion of transgender issues in a recent sermon has made global headlines and drawn a mixed reaction.
Margaret Court’s discussion of transgender issues in a recent sermon has made global headlines and drawn a mixed reaction.

Strong responses follow Court's transgender controversy

Margaret Court's latest public controversy made headlines everywhere from India to Turkey to South Africa - and has divided commentators.

In a sermon at her Perth church last Sunday, the tennis legend again ventured where Tennis Australia would prefer her to avoid by tackling the transgender issue.

Just weeks before the Australian Open will celebrate the 50th anniversary of her grand slam, the 77-year-old discussed her concern for transgender youth and the future of women's sport.

"Children are making the decision at seven or eight years of age to change their sex … no, just read the first two chapters of Genesis, that's all I say. Male and female," Court said.

"It's so wrong at that age because a lot of things are planted in this thought realm at that age, and they start to question 'what am I?'.

"And you know with that LGBT, they'll wish they never put the T on the end of it because, particularly in women's sports, they're going to have so many problems."

The 24-time grand slam winner's comments did receive some support. American author Eric Metaxas tweeted a link to news.com.au's coverage with the comment: "She is probably the greatest women's tennis player of all time, and she's used her platform heroically. Thank you, Margaret Court."

Australian political activist Lyle Shelton said Court's views were "not controversial but mainstream".

"Millions share her concern for women's sport. Parents are worried about radical gender fluid indoctrination of their children. Yet the left viciously attacks Margaret for speaking the truth," he tweeted.

"The battle for truth and freedom of speech should not be borne by this courageous woman alone. Where are our political, religious and other civil society leaders? Have we surrendered to rainbow lies about biology and the human condition? Is courage dead in Australia?"

Margaret Court preaches at the Victory Life Centre.
Margaret Court preaches at the Victory Life Centre.

But others were furious. Australian radio personality Gus Worland was particularly animated in his condemnation of Court's views, calling for Tennis Australia to end its association with her, including removing her name from Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne.

"Tennis Australia want us to say there's the person and there's the actual player but you can't (separate them)," Worland told Today. "The simple fact is she's awful - and what she's saying is awful. It's spreading hatred.

"So at the end of the day I'd put a line through her completely. I'd take her name off the arena down there in Melbourne and say 'you're done and dusted' …

"When she comes out with that sort of vile, that sort of hatred, that's where you put a line through someone …

"The timing is terrible. She knows exactly what she's doing. We're about to have the Australian Open. We're all going to get focused on the tennis down there in Melbourne - and we know her opponent. She's just restating it again … and she's (thumbing her nose) at all the tennis authorities and all the lovers and supporters of the game."

Sydney Morning Herald senior writer Jessica Irvine agreed. "Hopefully in the next decade we'll have left these views behind," Irving told Today. "It's just so disappointing.

"Australians want to celebrate our sporting heroes and she's amazing. But can we separate the views she has that I believe are unacceptable to the Australian people and celebrate her sporting wins? I don't think you can separate the two."

In the same sermon, Court highlighted the difficulty of openly discussing her religious views.

"People think because you don't agree with them, you hate them. No, I don't. I don't hate anybody," Court said.

Tennis Australia openly condemned Court's views in November, and made it clear in an open letter they are not welcome in the sport.


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