'Very sad': Margaret Court slams 'discrimination' of Tennis Australia honour

Margaret Court says it was "very sad" the way Tennis Australia has treated her, claiming the peak body had discriminated against her because of her views on same-sex marriage.

Court was honoured at the recently-completed Australian Open to mark the 50th anniversary of her grand slam winning season.

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But the 77 year-old - who once described homosexuality as an "abominable sexual practice" - wasn't impressed with the occasion.

“They (Tennis Australia) were going to honour me … but not celebrate me and my views on gay marriage,” Court told Nine News on Tuesday night.

“I’m a preacher. They think I’m going to preach the gospel.

“They have pointed the finger at me and tried to discriminate in everything that I've done, and I think that's very sad.”

Margaret Court says she was discriminated against by Tennis Australia. Image: Getty/Nine News

But TA, which had made it clear that it would celebrate her milestone but rejected her stance on gay marriage and homosexuality, said it had done everything it could for Court, including paying for her and 16 family members to attend a fortnight at the Open.

The body said she had agreed to all the arrangements before coming to Melbourne, including not having a chance to speak on centre court.

The Court situation escalated the day after the ceremony when former players Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe protested, calling for her name to be erased from Margaret Court Arena and replaced with that of Evonne Goolagong.

That also left Court unimpressed.

"I'd never go to another nation, whatever I thought of a person, I would never say, 'Hey, you should take their name off a building, or off an arena, or a tennis centre.' I would never do that," Court said.

"I think that was very, very wrong. I always got on quite well with John McEnroe. I always thought we got on and I’ve always respected him.

“I feel sorry for him that he can’t separate one part of life to another.”

Margaret Court watches the Australian Open women's final. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Legends whacked for breach of protocol

McEnroe and Navratilova later apologised after TA said they had breached protocol, but they didn’t apologise for their actions.

It could have cost the pair their credentials. Navratilova and McEnroe are working as TV analysts at Melbourne Park, and were made aware of the terms and conditions of their accreditation.

Without naming them by name, Australian Open organisers issued a statement in response to the protest that said while they embraced diversity, they still had regulations and protocols to ensure the integrity of the tournament and “two high-profile guests have breached these protocols.”

Navratilova apologised on the Tennis Channel, saying “I got in trouble. I am sorry I broke protocol. I had no idea there was this kind of protocol.”

John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova protested against Margaret Court. Image: Supplied

“Had I known, I would have done it differently,” she added. “But I would still have tried to make my statement which is, basically, you name buildings after not what people just did on the court, but also off the court. The whole body of work.

“I've said my piece. I do apologise for breaking control. Did not mean to do that.”

McEnroe issued an apology via ESPN for breaking protocol.

“Admittedly, I was never one to study the rule book carefully or for that matter, even at times abide by the rules” he said.

“In this case, I was not aware of the Tennis Australia rules and protocols for issuing credentials. For that I apologise to Tennis Australia.”

McEnroe's brother Patrick, also an ESPN commentator, said during a broadcast: “Sometimes, to make a statement, rules of protocol might have to be bended just a bit.”

with Associated Press