Australian tennis legend Margaret Court has sparked international outrage after describing her sport as "full of lesbians" and comparing transgender people to victims of a Nazi mind control plot.
Seventy-four-year-old Court is famous for winning 24 Grand Slam singles in her 17-year career—making her the most decorated tennis player in history—before retiring to become a Christian pastor. But apparently having spectacular hand-eye coordination and a strong overhead shot doesn't preclude you from having hateful opinions.
Court told a national Christian radio station that transgender children as being the product of bullying and bad parenting, News.com.au reports. "But with the literature, the bullying, the stuff that's put out today into children's minds, I tell you what, if you haven't got parents who bring you up that way and you've got parents that don't care and you're hurt and offended in somebody saying something to you," she said on Vision Christian Radio show 20Twenty.
Court also said that the Devil was influencing transgender children, like a Nazi brainwashing plot. "You can think, 'Oh I'm a boy' and it'll affect your emotions and feelings, and everything else and so that's all the Devil," Court says, "That's what Hitler did, that's what Communism did—got the mind of the children.
"There's a whole plot in our nation and in the nations of the world to get the minds of the children ."
Like the tennis ace she is, Court moved into the net to top-slice another hate-filled missive before her interview was up, telling host Neil Johnson that "gay lobbyists" were attempting to turn kids gay, which is a bad thing because being gay "will destroy their lives."
"I mean," she continued, "tennis is full of lesbians. Even when I was playing there was only a couple there but those couple that led that took young ones into parties and things. And what you get at the top is often what you'll get right through that sport ."
On 25 May, Court called for a boycott of airline Qantas in an open letter after they supported marriage equality. "I believe in marriage as a union between a man and a woman as stated in the Bible," Court wrote in a letter to the West Australian newspaper. After a public backlash, Court accused her detractors of "bullying."
Court's views also extend into the furthest and most shameful reaches of South African history. In the 70s, she said that the country's apartheid regime "has the racial situation better organized than anyone else, certainly better than the United States."
A spokesperson for Tennis Australia referred Broadly to a public statement explaining that "as a legend of the sport, we respect Margaret Court's achievements in tennis and her unmatched playing record. Her personal views are her own, and do not align with Tennis Australia's values of equality, inclusion, and diversity."
Tennis Australia says it also has no plans to rename the Margaret Court Arena, a Melbourne facility that is used for the Australian Open.
"It's not the first time a celebrity has cited the Devil or the Bible to support discrimination," Dan Merrithew of the Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance tells Broadly. "What's sad is that Court not only makes links with Hitler and communism and gays, but insinuates that her fellow female tennis players—who happen to be lesbian—entrap young people. Her message is that gay, lesbian, and transgender identity is evil and if your kids turn out that way it's because you didn't care. That's not what we expect from a role model for tennis."