Tennis Australia to honour Margaret Court

Darren Walton
Margaret Court hits a backhand against Chris Evert in the 1977 Virginia Slims finals in Chicago

Margaret Court has accepted Tennis Australia's invitation to the Australian Open to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her 1970 grand slam sweep.

While TA doesn't agree with Court's opposition to same-sex marriage, the governing body says it's important to recognise her efforts in winning the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open in the same calendar year.

"I'm looking forward to celebrating the 50th anniversary of winning the grand slam with my family and friends at the Australian Open," Court said.

"This is an incredible milestone for me and I can't quite believe how quickly the time has gone ... and I'm grateful to Tennis Australia."

The holder of an unmatched 24 grand slam singles trophies, Court's achievements will be celebrated throughout the 2020 Open from January 20 to February 2.

"Her on-court prowess, reputation for being supremely fit and training in a fashion way ahead of her time, along with her nickname 'the arm' for her massive reach, are remembered by fellow legends including Rod Laver," TA said in a statement.

The Australian Open's official program also includes a feature on Court's achievements in 1970.

Other plans for the 50th anniversary include in-stadium entertainment that takes the audience back to 1970 and Court's historic win, and the annual Australian Open Legends Lunch.

"Tennis Australia respects Margaret's unmatched tennis career and welcomes her to the Australian Open, particularly in this milestone anniversary year," the statement said.

"As often stated, Tennis Australia does not agree with Margaret's personal views, which have demeaned and hurt many in our community over a number of years. They do not align with our values of equality, diversity and inclusion.

"Our sport welcomes everyone, no matter what gender, ability, race, religion or sexuality, and we will continue to actively promote inclusion initiatives widely at all levels of the sport."

American Maureen Connolly in 1953 and German Steffi Graf in 1988 are the only two other women to have won all four slams in the same year.

"How blessed we are to have the greatest Mum, Margaret Court," Court's four children said in a statement.

"Mum is known worldwide for her tennis achievements for 64 grand slams, greater than any man or woman. She heads a church of thousands and helps many with food handouts daily.

"Mum is in continual demand to help and counsel others and is always ready to help people in need. She is a mother of four children and grandmother to nine grandchildren - who are all her number one fans.

"Mum and dad have been married for 53 years and are proud of us all and we are certainly proud of them.

"Mum's tennis achievements pale in light of her current life as a mother, wife, pastor and mentor to many.

"As mum is a minister of religion it is her job to stand for biblical principles. Mum has always been very Bible-based in her Christian beliefs and that is the reason why we have such a strong loving family.

"It is hard for her family to understand how her current lifestyle would possibly affect her tennis career in any way. It is disappointing to see Tennis Australia in the open letter amalgamating her sporting career which she won for her nation.

"We hope in this great nation of ours that generations to come will continue to have freedom of speech to stand for what they believe in."