Margaret Court ripped by US musician Phoebe Bridgers in fresh furore
Phoebe Bridgers led her audience at Margaret Court Arena in a raucous chant against the Australian tennis great.
Australian tennis icon Margaret Court has once again been dragged into a furore surrounding her hard-line views against same-sex marriage, with US musician Phoebe Bridgers blasting the 24-time grand slam champion during a performance at the arena named after the 80-year-old. Court's staunchly conservative views have attracted substantial criticism in recent years, particularly her ongoing support for the practice of gay conversion therapy.
During her performance at Margaret Court Arena on Wednesday night, Bridgers ripped into Court over her opposition to same-sex marriage, declaring the name of the arena ought to be changed. She also encouraged the crowd to begin a 'F*** Margaret Court' chant.
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“So, Margaret Court. F*** that stupid***, dumb*** b****. F*** that stupid c***. Change your name!” Bridgers said at one point in her performance.“You know what I mean? It’s like hate is like what moves things throughout history. I hate that stupid b****! Hate is like how you protect yourself. What, are you never supposed to be angry, ever?”
Bridgers' comments were hailed by her fans, one describing it on social media as 'iconic' - however it sparked backlash among Court's supporters. The minor political party Family Voice Australia called for the immigration minister to review Bridgers' visa.
Court's discriminatory views have attracted substantial criticism as she has become more vocal in recent years, with the likes of tennis greats John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova protesting her views during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Court's calendar grand slam in 2020. The pair called for Margaret Court Arena to be renamed in honour of Evonne Goolagong-Cawley.
Similarly in 2021, Victorian state premier Daniel Andrews declared he was 'quite sick' of being asked about renaming the stadium, openly declaring views such as Court's were not welcome to him. His comments came after she was awarded the Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AC) in 2021.
“I don’t want to give this person’s disgraceful, bigoted views any oxygen," Andrews tweeted in 2021. “But when others insist on rewarding them with this country’s highest honour – I think it’s worth saying again. Grand Slam wins don’t give you some right to spew hatred and create division. Nothing does.”
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Court has insisted her views have resulted in a lot of 'bullying', simply claiming that she has been 'standing up for my beliefs'. The 80-year-old was a notable absentee at the Australian Open earlier this year.
The likes of Rod Laver, Evonne Goolagong, John Newcombe, Ken Rosewall and Ash Barty were all spotted at various stages throughout finals weekend, but not Court. The 80-year-old's controversial views are so far out of line with those of Tennis Australia that Court wouldn't attend, even if she was extended an invitation.
Court used to make an annual appearance at the Melbourne Park grand slam, but hasn't been sighted since 2020 - when she was honoured in a special ceremony to mark the 50-year anniversary of her 'grand slam' in 1970 when she won all four majors that year. It looks like it will be the last time she shows her face at the Australian Open.
This year Tennis Australia introduced a Pride Day to celebrate inclusivity in the sport, while also bringing in a 'pride hub' and 'all gender' toilets around Melbourne Park. The grand slam also had the 'Glam Slam' event from January 25-27 to celebrate the LGBTI+ community.
The moves are so far out of line with Court's divisive views that it's hard to see her ever returning to Melbourne Park, even with Tennis Australia resisting calls to rename Margaret Court Arena to something less controversial. After skipping the Australian Open in 2018 she described same-sex marriage as a 'trend'.
“I think there will be a price to pay for it in the future in the nation and people will see it’s not about marriage,” she told the Herald Sun at the time. “There will be a genderless generation. My thing was a marriage is between a man and a woman.”
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