The Australian tennis summer is again facing controversy with fans divided on whether Margaret Court should be acknowledged at the Australia Open on her Grand Slam anniversary.
All-time great Margaret Court called on Tennis Australia to celebrate her grand slam 50th anniversary.
Court wants the same recognition that was afforded to Rod Laver's 1969 Grand Slam anniversary at the Australian Open earlier this year, and says she won't return to Melbourne Park unless she is formally welcomed back.
Court, who holds the all-time record of 24 grand slam singles titles, has not attended the Australian Open since 2017, when she was heavily criticised after voicing her opposition to same-sex marriage.
That led to calls for her name to be removed from Margaret Court Arena at Melbourne Park.
"I think Tennis Australia should sit and talk with me (about the anniversary)," Court told Nine.
"They have never phoned me. Nobody has spoken to me directly about it. I think they would rather not confront it.
"They brought Rod in from America. If they think I'm just going to turn up, I don't think that is right. I think I should be invited. I would hope they would pay my way to come like they paid for his, and honour me. If they are not going to do that, I don't really want to come."
Court insisted that her opinions on same-sex marriage should not be a factor.
"I don't feel any of that should be brought into my tennis career," she continued.
"It was a different phase of my life from where I am now and if we are not big enough as a nation and a game to face those challenges there is something wrong."
Fans on social media were divided on whether Court should receive acknowledgement for her incredible sporting achievements.
Many claimed she shouldn’t be recognised on the anniversary considering her views differ vastly to Tennis Australia’s message of inclusion and equality.
— Joe Fitzpatrick (@joeybfitz) November 7, 2019
Margaret Court can't show respect to others but expects it for herself 🤔
— 💧The Angry Goddess (@Bishop64) November 6, 2019
Margaret Court's sporting achievements can and should not give her carte blanche to prejudice and incitement of hatred. Nor should the latter be glossed over to valorise the former
— Amy Coopes (@coopesdetat) November 6, 2019
So Margaret Court wants equal treatment as a sports champion... but she doesn’t want lgbt to have equal rights? Am I reading that correctly? 🤦🏻♀️
— Madi (@madi93) November 6, 2019
surely Margaret court is the hypocrite here
— Vegas Mug (@cant_eat_value) November 7, 2019
Sorry Margaret Court, the sport is bigger than you. And sport including Tennis is about all people, community and inclusion - its not a pulpit for one person to scream their views. Thats why you're in the history books and not embraced. You're acknowledged but not celebrated
— Sabrina Balfour (@SpottyBalfour) November 6, 2019
Others claimed her views she has expressed on same-sex marriage should not be a factor when it comes to recognising her tennis career.
Her sporting prowess and greatness should be celebrated wholeheartedly. She honestly states her beliefs, and so she should. Leave Margaret Court Arena as it is. Its about celebrating her tennis. Choose to dislike her if you wish, she deserves a Laver like celebration.
— Michael Maney (@MichaelManey2) November 7, 2019
TENNIS AUSTRALIA should hang their heads in shame , if they dont honour Margaret Court's amazing achievements
— Jenny Bell (@BeeSting) November 6, 2019
Let's separate Margaret Court's obvious sporting achievements from her personal views about same sex marriage.
One has nothing to do with the other.
If we honoured Laver, it smacks of hypocrisy not to bestow the same honour on Ms Court.
— Lousy_cricketer (@RadioPhysician) November 7, 2019
Tennis Australia said it was "in the process of working through" how Court's milestone should be recognised.
"As previously stated, Tennis Australia recognises the tennis achievements of Margaret Court, although her views do not align with our values of equality, diversity and inclusion," a spokeswoman for Tennis Australia told Nine.