Margaret Court: Australian LGBT tennis tournament organiser urges education over controversial views
Last Updated: 18/01/20 6:45pm
Margaret Court's expression of her controversial views has caused pain and she should be encouraged to deliver a more inclusive message, says the organiser of the 'Glam Slam', Australia's biggest LGBT tennis event.
The Australian Open gets under way on Monday but the start of the tournament could be overshadowed with another controversy involving one of the game's greatest-ever players.
Court's views on equal marriage, transgender athletes and the teaching of LGBT rights have been condemned and led to tournament organisers announcing they will recognise rather than celebrate the 50th anniversary of her winning all four Grand slams in a calendar year.
Court, now the senior pastor at the Pentecostal church she founded in Perth in 1995, will attend the Australian Open in Melbourne as a special guest in recognition of her achievements in the sport.
Rowen D'Souza is the organiser of the 'Glam Slam', an LGBT-inclusive tournament on the global GLTA (Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance) tour which will be held at Albert Reserve on the Australian Open's final weekend.
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He told Sky Sports News: "Our community is sensitive because we have faced discrimination in the past, and our community does suffer when people say things they do because it makes us feel that we're not wanted, we're not included.
"Sport should be about just including everybody. Margaret Court's comments do cause pain, but we're here to try and make sure that that pain is minimised and we give people a forum - a safe place, but also a place where they can thrive through sport."
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D'Souza is extending a hand of friendship and reconciliation to Court, having met her at a function in Perth last November. He hopes she will accept an invitation to attend the 'Glam Slam'.
"Often we make judgements of people based on what we see in the media or their social media profile. But in person, Mrs Court is a delightful person and it was really nice to have a chat and she listened attentively," added D'Souza.
"And it's true, when she says she doesn't hate us - I believe that as well. Sportspeople should separate their personal lives with their sport lives."
There have been calls to rename the Margaret Court Arena at Melbourne Park in light of the anti-LGBT statements which the former champion has made in public, but D'Souza believes that is the wrong action to take.
"Sportspeople should be interested in increasing participation in their sport, and that's what we'd love Mrs Court to be able to do in the future.
"So the name should stay the same, but we'd really like more inclusivity messages from her as well."