Should a racist and homophobe have a tennis stadium named after her?

Tennis great Martina Navratilova has not been shy about speaking her mind and trying to advance the cause of women and the LGBT community. She has now called on Australian authorities to rename the Margaret Court Arena, one of the main courts where the Australian Open is played, because Court is a racist and a homophobe and is thus not worthy of the honor, though there is no denying her tennis accomplishments.

Court, 74, has said she would not fly on Qantas “where possible” in protest at its support of same-sex marriage.

She then told a Christian radio station “tennis is full of lesbians”.

In 1990, Court said Navratilova was a poor role model for young tennis players because of her homosexuality.

Navratilova said she had forgiven Court for those comments, but had only just been made aware of remarks the Australian made about South Africa’s apartheid regime.

In 1970, Court said: “South Africa has the racial situation rather better organised than anyone else, certainly much better than the United States.”

Navratilova suggests that the court should be named after Evonne Goolagong, another great player who is of Australian Aboriginal descent, which strikes me as an excellent idea.

Court thinks that ‘gay lobby’, that powerful, secret organization that wields so much power against the righteous, is organizing the campaign against her. It should also be no surprise that what lies behind Court’s views are her Christian religious beliefs and that she is adept at using inflammatory language to promote herself and make money.

One of the most astute observations made in the wake of Court’s most recent dive-bomb into public debate was by the cricket writer and high profile transgender Australian Cate McGregor, when the latter pointed to Court’s flair for publicity. “The pile-on last week strategically helped her,” McGregor told the ABC’s The Drum, “It gave prominence to her views and it rendered her a victim. You can kick us (the LGBTI community) to death to the applause of the mainstream media and ramp up solicitations for money, as I saw her acolytes doing on Christian radio the other day, and it’s frankly sick-making.”

Right now, smack bang in the middle of the website for Court’s Victory Life Centre, above even Court’s photo and biography, is a link to donate. In her latest book, Court claims a member of her congregation once handed her a cheque for $237,000. In another anecdote, a visiting American pastor promises a $50,000 donation in order to solicit smaller $1,000 donations from members of the congregation, enough in that instance for the deposit on a new property. No one knows the precise size of the market for Court’s wares, but it certainly exists.

The US has seen a rethinking of statues and monuments built and buildings named in honor of people who were racists and slave owners. In New Orleans, for example, four statues that honored civil war secessionists and pro-slavery advocates were ordered removed by the city mayor and that action was carried out in the middle of the night by masked contractors wearing bulletproof vests and protected by snipers because of protests by those who wanted to retain the statues.

The New Orleans City Council had declared the city’s four Confederate monuments a public nuisance.

On Friday police cars circled the last one standing, the imposing statue of General Robert E. Lee, a 16-foot-tall bronze figure mounted on a 60-foot pedestal in the center of Lee Circle near downtown. Live news trucks were parked on side streets, and cameramen watched from the windows of nearby hotel rooms. The air was muggy and tense.

Three monuments already had come down in what represented a sharp cultural changing of the guard: First it was the Liberty Place monument, an obelisk tucked on a back street near the French Quarter that commemorated a Reconstruction Era white supremacist attack on the city’s integrated police force; next, Confederate Jefferson Davis — a bronze statue of the only president of the Confederacy, mounted on a pedestal in the working-class Mid-City area of town; then, Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard, mounted high on a horse in a roundabout at the entrance to City Park.

Opponents of the removal claimed that by removing the statues and renaming the building, people were trying to erase the South’s heritage and culture. That is of course absurd. History does not depend upon the existence of such things. And there is no question that these monuments, sometimes explicitly, support white supremacy.

If anyone now proposed putting up a statue or naming a building after a racist, bigot, or homophobe, there would be loud objections and it likely would not happen, however exceptional their accomplishments in some narrow field was because such an action would be seen as excusing, if not outright endorsing, their views. So why should existing monuments be exempt from being viewed similarly?


  1. jrkrideau says

    I don’t ever remember hearing about the woman but yes rename the stadium. One objectionable opinion, well, okay she’s an idiot, combine the two, she is an objectionable person and, given she runs some nut-case “church” her influence and preaching could endanger lives.

    I think the apartheid support really annoyed me. IIRC Australia was still famously racist in its immigration policies at the time but endorsing apartheid is a bit much.

  2. johnson catman says

    Tomorrow (Monday, June 5) is a state holiday in Alabama. For the birthday of Jefferson Davis. First Monday of June every year.

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