Rod Laver disparity behind Margaret Court's Australia Day honour

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Margaret Court and Rod Laver, pictured here at the 2015 Australian Open.
Margaret Court and Rod Laver at the 2015 Australian Open. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

Margaret Court’s controversial Australia Day honour was reportedly awarded to address a disparity between her and male tennis legend Rod Laver.

Debate has raged since it was leaked late last week that Court would receive the Companion to the Order of Australia - the country’s highest honour.

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The 78-year-old Court had already been made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2007.

However the Council for the Order of Australia has since revealed that members felt Court should be elevated to the same level as fellow Aussie tennis legend Laver.

Australia’s most successful male tennis player, Laver was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia in 2016.

Members of the Council for the Order of Australia told Nine Newspapers they expected some backlash to the Court announcement, but they felt she deserved the same recognition as Laver.

Court’s feats on the tennis court are unquestionable, with her 24 grand slam singles titles still the world benchmark.

But her views on the LGBTQ community and her fierce opposition to same-sex marriage have drawn angry criticism.

Her latest Order of Australia award has further stoked the fire, but Court doesn’t regret accepting the honour.

“No, because I loved representing my nation,” Court told 3AW on Tuesday.

“When I got the AO it was for my community reach area. We put out 75 tonnes of food a week. And this was for my tennis, and I think it was a long-time coming.

“I wasn't one who looked for it. I didn't know I was getting it. I was very honoured when I was told I was.

“There wasn't a lot of fuss about it, but there has been a lot of other people who have made a lot of fuss about it.”

Margaret Court, pictured here during the 2020 Australian Open.
Margaret Court looks on during the 2020 Australian Open. (Photo by Morgan Hancock/Getty Images)

Margaret Court not invited to 2021 Australian Open

Court reiterated her views that being gay was a choice, and could be cured.

But she felt some of her views had been misconstrued.

“I've always said what the Bible says,” she said.

“I don't hate anybody. I love people, and I love gay people and transgender people, and we get them into our community services. We never turn anybody away.

“A lot of things were said which I never really said, which I think was the sad part.

“I've been bullied a lot in the last few years, and I don't mind. That’s alright. But if I say anything, then (they say) I'm a bigot and I'm everything else, and I don't like that.”

Controversy raged when Court accepted Tennis Australia's invitation to the 2020 Australian Open to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her 1970 grand slam sweep.

Court said she hadn’t received an invitation for this year's tournament, and wouldn’t have accepted it anyway due to various factors.

“I'm not coming to the Australian Open. No, I wasn't invited,” Court said.

“With Coronavirus, we've been so busy with our community work. I haven't even thought about it.”

with AAP

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