LONDON (AFP) – Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has urged officials to consider renaming Melbourne’s Margaret Court Arena over the Australian’s anti-gay stance, saying: “I don’t think her values are what tennis stands for.”
His comments follow calls from WTA founder Billie Jean King to remove Court’s name from one of the main stadiums at the Australian Open’s Melbourne Park venue and a welter of criticism for her controversial views from other senior figures in the sport.
“She has obviously offended and upset a lot of people over the years,” said Murray in an interview with Pridelife.com.
“I think the players certainly have spoken up, which is a positive thing.
“As far as renaming the venue. I think that yes, it’s something the sport should consider. I don’t know who makes the final decision on that but I don’t think her values are what tennis stands for.
“When you get to the Australian Open you want to concentrate on the tennis. Court’s views detract from that.”
Court, who won a record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, has become a divisive figure in tennis, and especially at the Australian Open.
At the tournament in January, Tennis Australia held a low-key ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of her 1970 calendar-year Grand Slam after noting her views had “demeaned and hurt many in our community”.
In retirement, Court, now a devoutly Christian church pastor and based in Perth, Western Australia, has often attracted controversy over her comments on race and homosexuality.
The Australian once praised South Africa’s apartheid system, said “tennis is full of lesbians” and described transgender children as “the work of the devil”.
“Court was given a ceremony at the Australian Open this year to mark her achievements in the game, but the reception she received from the public was lukewarm,” said Murray, who has been men’s singles runner-up five times at the Melbourne Grand Slam tournament.
At the same tournament, American greats John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova were reprimanded for unfurling a banner on court calling for Margaret Court Arena to be renamed after Evonne Goolagong, the three-time Australian Open winner.