Journalist Gideon Haigh has anointed tennis legend Margaret Court as the "racist grandfather" of Australian sport after buzzing Tennis Australia earlier this week.
Court won all four majors in 1970, ending her career with 24 grand slam singles titles – the most in history – but has generated controversy in recent years with her outspoken opposition to same-sex marriage.
Gay marriage in Australia was legalized after the 2017 census, but the Court disagrees with it on religious grounds because the Bible says marriage must be between a man and a woman.
The 77-year-old has been chased for her views with plenty of claims that the court honoring her in Melbourne Park has changed her name.
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But the Court demanded that Tennis Australia celebrate her Grand Slam victory in a similar way that legend Rod Laver has been celebrated on all the major characters in recognition of winning the 1969 Grand Slam.
"I think Tennis Australia should sit down and talk to me," the court told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. "They never called me. No one has spoken directly to me about it. I think they would rather not confront it. "
READ MORE: Margaret Court & # 39; s Call for Tennis Australia
But talking on ABC offsiders this morning, Haigh debated different perceptions of the former world’s No. 1 after the Court urged the Australian tennis community to show her more respect.
"Margaret Court is tennis racist grandfather for Christmas," Haigh said. "She's a little embarrassing, but you know you still love your grandfather and it's Christmas."
Despite her quip, Haigh argued that the Court's findings should still be celebrated regardless of her controversial opinions.
“The Court is a very great champion. She won more Grand Slams than (Rod) Laver; she has also been relatively recognized because it is also women's sport, "said Haigh.
"You might find her opinions antediluvian, but if we animate any great athlete who had unfortunate opinions, opinions with which we disagree or an unattractive personality, then we may not have too many left, frankly."
The 53-year-old journalist suggested that Court & # 39; s tennis career should be recognized because of its importance to the growth of women's sport in Australia.
"In her era, she was one of only a handful of women who reminded Australians that women can compete in sports and not just compete, but excel," Haigh said.
"She has, quite rightly, I think, a master's pride in it."
Tennis Australia said it was "in the process" of finding out how the court's milestone would be recognized with her comments differing from the values of the sport's governing body in Australia.
"As previously mentioned, Tennis Australia recognizes tennis achievements from Margaret Court, even though her views do not match our values of equality, diversity and inclusion," a tennis Australia spokeswoman told Nine.
Earlier this week, Triple M Sydney's breakfast program Lawrence Mooney strongly condemned the court Thursday.
"If you're homophobic, there's no place for you in public life," Mooney said.
“Discriminating against sexuality is a crime, so it is legislated against.
"Margaret Court & # 39; s statements about same-sex marriage and sexuality are abhorrent, and she must be hounded out of the sport until she falls into line."
Court won 24 Grand Slam singles titles, the most of any player in history, male or female. She also holds the record for most Australian Open titles with 11.
The Australian Fed Cup team has been keeping an eye on the situation with team captain Alicia Molik explaining why.
"I read the article, but players are instructed to mark the column 'no newspaper' when checking in at the hotel," Molik said.
"I don't think anything out there or anything in the media, any particular headline, can really distract us from what we're trying to accomplish this weekend."
The court has not participated in the Australian Open since 2017, when she was heavily criticized after voicing her opposition to same-sex marriage.
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