Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says he does not support former tennis great Margaret Court being recognised with an Australia Day honour.
- The tennis legend was the first Australian woman to win Wimbledon
- Ms Court, 78, is now a reverend and has been outspoken on social issues
- She was particularly opposed to same-sex marriage
Ms Court is set to be promoted to a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) — she is currently an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).
In recent years, Ms Court has come under fire for her views on the LGBTQI community.
“I do not support that. I do not believe that she has views that accord with the vast majority of people across our nation, that see people particularly from the LGBTQI community as equal and deserving as dignity, respect and safety,” Mr Andrews said.
The Order of Australia has four levels, of which Ms Court’s new status as a “Companion” is highest.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there was an “independent process” to decide who was honoured and that it was “a system that recognises the full spectrum of individuals across this country”.
Ms Court holds a record 24 grand slam singles titles and was the first female Australian to win Wimbledon in 1963.
The 78-year-old, who is now a reverend in Perth, wrote an open letter in 2017 saying she would boycott Qantas over its support of same-sex marriage.
“I teach what the Bible says about things and you get persecuted for it,” she said in an ABC interview last year.
In 2013, Ms Court wrote a letter to the editor in a newspaper lamenting the birth of Australian tennis player Casey Dellacqua’s child in a same-sex relationship.
“It is with sadness that I see that this baby has seemingly been deprived of a father,” Ms Court wrote.
Her honour was supposed to be revealed next week, but news of the decision broke this morning.
Last year, Ms Court was presented with a special trophy to commemorate 50 years since she won all four tennis majors — the Australian Open, French Open, US Open and Wimbledon — in 1970.
The gong created a challenge for Tennis Australia, which distanced itself from her personal views.
She has also been a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) since 1967, for her services to sport and international relations.
The International Tennis Hall of Famer’s 24 grand slams singles titles remain a record in the women’s game, although US legend Serena Williams has 23.
Mr Andrews said he would prefer not to be giving oxygen to Ms Court’s views.
“But I don’t give out those gongs, that’s not a matter for me, that’s for others,” he said.
“You might want to speak to them about why they think those views, which are disgraceful, hurtful and cost lives, should be honoured.”
One of the main stadiums at Melbourne Park — home of the Australian Open — is named in her honour.
Mr Andrews said the name of Margaret Court Arena was a matter for other people.
“I’m sick of talking about that person every summer,” he said.
“I’m sick of having this discussion in one form or another, every single summer.”