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Australian tennis great Margaret Court honoured at Australian Open
Australian tennis great Margaret Court has been acknowledged by Tennis Australia for her on-court achievements.
In a ceremony at the Australian Open on Monday night, Court received a special trophy presented by Rod Laver.
The ceremony at the Rod Laver Arena marked 50 years since she won the Grand Slam, claiming all four major tennis tournaments in 1970.
She still holds the all-time record of 24 grand slam single titles in her career, one more than Serena Williams.
However, her comments on race, homosexuality and the transgender community over recent years have sparked protests at previous Australian Open tournaments and created a challenge for Tennis Australia, which has distanced itself from her personal views.
Despite this, as Court held the trophy aloft, the crowd applauded, cheered and whistled.
Australian Open Director Craig Tiley emphasised that the presentation was purely a recognition of Court's sporting accomplishments, explaining "there's a difference between a recognition of that and a celebration of someone. Her recognition is for her tennis achievements only."
Long retired from tennis, Court is the pastor of the Victory Life Centre, a Christian church in Perth.
In an interview on ABC Radio Perth last week Court, advised that she felt she "deserved" recognition, stating "it is something that I did for my nation and I'm always very proud of it.
"I just wish the press would keep to my tennis."
Court attracted fierce criticism from LGBTQI allies in 2017 when she wrote an open letter stating she would boycott Qantas over its support of same-sex marriage.
In 2013, 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.
She wrote "it is with sadness that I see that this baby has seemingly been deprived of a father."
During last year's Australian Open, Vogue magazine editor-in-chief Anna Wintour used a speech to call for the Margaret Court Arena to be renamed, echoing earlier calls including by fellow tennis greats Martina Navratilova and American tennis great Billie Jean King.
Wintour commented "intolerance has no place in tennis.
"Margaret Court was a champion on the court but a meeting point for players of all nations, preferences, and backgrounds should celebrate somebody who was a champion off the court as well."
Meanwhile, in a show of inclusivity, the Australia Open will host its third 'Glam Slam' event at Melbourne Park from 30th January.
The event features more than 200 players from 30 countries and is the only LGBTQI tennis event in the world to be staged during a Grand Slam tournament at the same venue.
19th January 2020 - What court surfaces will the Australian Open be played on?
14th January 2020 - Melbourne’s poor air quality impacts Australian Open qualifier event
28th November 2019 - Rod Laver Arena named as a top 10 highest grossing venue
25th October 2019 - Footprint of Australian Open set to expand in 2020
25th July 2019 - Tennis Australia to change hardcourt surface for Australian Open
6th June 2019 - Tennis Australia commits to United Nations climate change action
29th January 2019 - Record 780,000 fans share the excitement of the 2019 Australian Open
5th January 2017 - Rod Laver bronze statue unveiled at Melbourne Park
5th May 2016 - Tennis Australia appoints Ann West as integrity head
26th January 2016 - Rod Laver, Graham Ford and David Gallop recognised in Australian Day honours
16th March 2015 - Melbourne’s Margaret Court Arena emerges as a new venue for live music
24th January 2015 - Margaret Court Arena gains acclaim during Australian Open week one
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