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Twitter/Margaret Court

Tennis star turned pastor faces fresh criticism over homosexuality comments

by Eno Adeogun

Margaret Court, 74, a Perth resident, who won a record 24 grand slam singles titles in the 60s and 70s, accused gay players within tennis of trying to influence others, saying "tennis is full of lesbians".

During an interview on Vision Christian Radio, she said: "Even when I was playing there were only a couple there but those couple that led took young ones into parties.

Martina Navratilova, a former world number one tennis player, has been among those to condemn Court's views since she announced last week she would be boycotting Australian airline Qantas because of its chief executive's support for same-sex marriage, which isn't legal in Australia.

She made fresh calls for the main show court - known as Margaret Court Arena - at the Australian Open to be renamed in an open letter to Court.

Czech-American Navratilova, who married her partner Julia Lemigova in 2014 said she "had long ago forgiven Court" for saying being a lesbian made her a "bad role model".

She continued: "What I did not know about until now were the unabashed racist statements she made in the 70s about apartheid in South Africa.

Wikimedia Commons

"It is now clear exactly who Court is: an amazing tennis player, and a racist and a homophobe."

Australian number one Sam Stosur said players could choose to boycott the court at next year's tournament and the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has also waded into the row.

He said: "Whatever people may think about Margaret Court's views about gay marriage ... she is one of the all-time greats and the Margaret Court Arena celebrates Margaret Court the tennis player."

Tennis players have also voiced why they oppose the court being renamed.

While world number one Andy Murray has openly supported gay marriage, he cautioned against a boycott.

He explained: ''If something was to be done, I think it would be a lot more beneficial to do it before the tournament starts.

''For players to be in a position where you're in a slam and boycotting playing on the court, I think would potentially cause a lot of issues.

Twitter/Tennis Australia

Tennis Australia, the national body for participation and facilitation of tennis in Australia has so far resisted the calls to rename the arena, saying last week on its Twitter page that Court's "personal views are her own".

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