Your’s truly writing in The Age on the controversy over Margaret Court’s grand slam anniversary year.
By Rev. Bill Crews
November 7, 2019
I once interviewed Margaret Court on my radio program in Sydney. She was a person of devout faith. Dare I say it, of fiercely strong faith and belief. I could see where her drive to win came from.
Margaret is arguably one of the greatest sports stars Australia has ever produced. When it comes to Aussie icons she is up there with Herb Elliot, Dawn Fraser and of course the great Don Bradman.
I remember her grand slam year of 1970. I was on my path to the ministry, working with the homeless not far from Les Girls in Sydney’s Kings Cross. Every time Margaret played I was glued to the television, watching this astounding woman dominate the tennis court. In fact, the nation was watching too, willing her on to win.
So on the 50th anniversary of that grand slam year it would ordinarily be fitting to honour Margaret Court. Sadly for her, there are questions. Indeed, I can’t help feeling that if her past comments about our LGBT brothers and sisters were a little kinder, things might be very different for her now.
At the same time Margaret was enthralling us on the tennis court, homosexuality was illegal. Gay people faced stigmatisation and the fear of imprisonment. They endured conversion therapy and some even had operations on their brains. It was not a kind time.
A lot has changed since then. We are kinder now. Australia is more tolerant and less judgmental. However, it saddens me that some people of faith cling on to old prejudices.
That’s not to say people shouldn’t be able to speak their mind. However, I think Christian people have a special duty to comment through the lens of kindness and compassion. After all, Jesus never judged.
So perhaps that’s the tragedy of this whole affair. A great woman may miss out on the acknowledgement she deserves because of the dogged faith and tenacity that won her acclaim.