A former world champion female tennis player who is now a Christian pastor has created a storm with her claim that “tennis is full of lesbians.”
Margaret Court, a 24-time Grand Slam singles champion and a seven-time top-ranked player in the world, also said that transgender kids are the work of “the devil,” the BBC reported.
The 74-year-old Court has been embroiled controversy after pledging not to fly on Australian airlines Qantas “where possible” to protest the company’s support of gay marriage.
“When I was playing there were only a couple [of lesbians],” Court said on air at Vision Christian Radio. “But those couple that led took young ones into parties and things. What you get at the top is often what you’ll get right through that sport.”
The former tennis player added: “We’re there to help them overcome. We’re not against the people.”
Following Court’s comments, other tennis players angrily urged that Margaret Court Arena, where Australian Open is being held, change its name in protest of her remarks.
Grand Slam winners Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King were among players asking to strip her name from the arena.
Former tennis champion Sam Stosur, meanwhile, claimed that some players could refuse to play at the arena at next year’s tournament. She also said players are united in condemning Court.
“I think that’s all pretty crazy stuff,” said Stosur. “It’s pretty obvious that the whole tennis community out here has pretty much the same opinion and we’re going to all stand by that.”
The controversy even prompted Andy Murray, currently the No. 1 ranked played in the world, to say on Tuesday during the French Open tournament that he hoped a solution could be found before the tournament in Australia next year.
Tennis Australia, the governing body for tennis in the country, said earlier this week that the arena won’t be renamed, adding that her views are a personal matter.