Controversial tennis legend Margaret Court will not present the trophy to the winning women’s singles player at this year’s Australian Open, according to multiple reports.
Court, who won at the Australian, French and U.S. Opens as well as Wimbledon in back in 1970, has caused controversy with her hardline stances on gay marriage and transgender issues.
The 77-year-old’s views, which have been condemned by many athletes, notably Martina Navratilova, have caused headaches for Tennis Australia.
The peak body for Australia tennis has publicly condemned Court’s views, saying in a 2019 statement that her words ‘demeaned and hurt many in our community over a number of years’.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of her grand slam feats, with many wondering how the organisation would commemorate the achievement in light of her public stance.
On Wednesday, it was revealed that Court would not be presenting the trophy to the winner of the women’s singles competition, as she has done several times before.
The move was later confirmed by Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley.
A report in The Australian noted that Ivan Lendl had presented the men’s singles trophy last year, despite Australian legend Rod Laver being in attendance for the 50th anniversary of his own calendar grand slam.
TA boss Craig Tiley confirms Margaret Court will NOT present any trophies at this years AO. @FOXSportsNews— Natalie Yoannidis (@NatYoannidisFOX) January 8, 2020
Australian Open warm-up event slammed over ‘sexism’ controversy
While some expected the Margaret Court issue to loom large over the Australian Open, the Brisbane International warm-up even has proven to be an unlikely source of controversy involving Maria Sharapova and Sam Stosur.
Sharapova says the women's Brisbane International feels like a "second-hand event" after being forced to start on an outside court due to a clash with the men's ATP Cup.
Sam Stosur agreed, saying it was "not great" that the tournament clash meant less airtime for top female players.
Sharapova became the latest women's star to raise questions about the inaugural men's team tournament having a monopoly on Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane this week after her shock first round loss to American qualifier Jennifer Brady on Tuesday night.
The ATP Cup holds its final round-robin matches in Brisbane on Wednesday.
It ensures even the likes of Australia's world No.1 Ashleigh Barty won't be able to feature on the main arena until Thursday at the earliest - the fourth day of the week-long women's season-opening Brisbane International.
After former US Open champion Sloane Stephens labelled it disrespectful and dual Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova claimed it wasn't fair, Sharapova also didn't hold back.
With Brisbane International tournament director Mark Handley looking on at her post-match press conference, Sharapova said the women's stars deserved to shine on the main arena from the outset.
"You definitely recognise it and notice it (starting on outside courts), it feels like a little bit of a second-hand event," she said.
"I think on Thursday the girls go back on centre court. But it's definitely a bit of a strange strategic move.
"I think there's a lot of girls that are deserving of that centre court spot in this draw, I think there are six out of (the world's) top 10 players (in Brisbane)."