News and Commentary

A Tennis Arena Was Named After A Woman Because Of Diversity. Now She’s Under Attack For Being ‘Anti-Gay.’

We in America may think we’re the only ones transfixed with covering up our history and removing people’s achievements because of what was acceptable when they were alive or because they happen to espouse “wrongthink.” But other first world countries are doing this, too.

In Australia, a battle has been brewing for years over the name of a tennis court. You see, it used to be called Show Court One, but in 2003, it was renamed Margaret Court Arena, after the greatest Australian women’s tennis player. It was renamed after a woman for diversity reasons, as the nearby Rod Laver Arena was just too much man. The secondary venue was named after a woman, because equality.

But Margaret Court is now on the wrong side of history, according to the only people media outlets speak to about the arena’s name.

Court retired from tennis in 1977. In 1982, she went to Bible school and adopted Christian beliefs surrounding a number of issues, including homosexuality. And that’s where she went wrong, according to the New Yorker:

By the early nineties, she was declaring that lesbians were ruining women’s tennis and that Martina Navratilova, in particular, was “a great player” but that she’d “like someone at the top who the younger players can look up to. It’s very sad for children to be exposed to homosexuality.” When, in 2011, the call for reforms to legalize gay marriage began to grow louder in Australia, Court’s views became even harsher, and she began voicing them more frequently. By the time same-sex marriage was put to a national referendum, in the fall of 2017, she was a prominent and tireless opponent.

It no longer matters what Court did as a tennis player, her wrongthink is enough for people to call for the arena to be renamed after someone more inclusive.

For the record, Court won all four major tennis titles in the same year — 1970. She won 64 titles total, including singles, doubles, and mixed-doubles. Serena Williams is still chasing one of Court’s records. In other words, this woman was one tough player.

But renaming things is on trend now, as is outrage, so Court’s got to go.

The best part here is that Rod Laver, the player the main venue is named after, is “an inclusive man,” according to player Rennae Stubbs, who spoke to The New Yorker. Too bad Laver is a man, and a white man at that. His views and beliefs matter less when naming an arena than whether someone with the right skin tone or genitals. Surely his arena will be renamed at some point simply because he’s a white man. Until then, Australian tennis players will have to demand a woman who supports gay rights gets her name on the arena. Well, unless a corporate sponsor steps in.