Margaret Court defends right to religious freedom of speech, slams media over 2021 Australia Day Honours leak

Former tennis great Margaret Court has welcomed the decision to promote her to the highest level of the Order of Australia, after the decision came under fire from two state premiers and LGBT groups concerned about her past criticisms of same sex marriage.

Earlier today it was revealed Ms Court is set to be promoted from an Officer of the Order of Australia, to a Companion.

The information was embargoed but was tweeted by a freelance journalist, and then put to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews at a press conference.

Speaking to the ABC, Ms Court said the early announcement of the honours was “sad”.

Ms Court will receive a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), which has sparked backlash due to her controversial views on the LGBT community.(Supplied: Chris Brown Photography)

“I think it’s time to move on and not always to be looking back,” she said.

Ms Court said it was important to defend the right to freedom of speech.

“I am a minister of the Gospel, I have been a pastor for 30 years and I teach the Bible,” she said.

“I think that is my right and my privilege to be able to bring that forth.

“I think it’s very sad that people still hold onto that and still want to bully, and I think it’s time to move on.”

Ms Court remains one of Australia’s greatest tennis players, holding a record 24 grand slam titles after being the first female to win Wimbledon in 1963.

She said she had always tried to be a role model with her tennis, saying it was an “honour” to receive the award.

More to come.

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