‘It’s of the Devil’: Tennis great Margaret Court unleashes on ‘gays’, lesbians and transgender athletes in fiery church sermon on eve of the Australian Open where she will be the guest of honour
Margaret Court says most Christians don’t even know what the Bible says
She told a congregation that LGBT material in schools is ‘of the devil’
Tennis Australia censures Court’s views saying they ‘demeaned and hurt’ people
Court’s children defend their mother’s free speech, ‘disappointed’ with TA
TA will still honour Court’s 1970 historic grand slam victories next month
By ALISON BEVEGE FOR DAILY MAIL AUSTRALIA
PUBLISHED: 02:41, 30 December 2019 | UPDATED: 02:51, 30 December 2019
Tennis champion Margaret Court has sparked more controversy, telling a Perth church congregation that LGBT material in schools was ‘of the devil’ and transgender athletes had no place in professional sport.
The sporting icon’s Sunday sermon has put tennis bosses in a difficult position ahead of next month’s Australian Open.
Next year marks the 50th anniversary of Court’s victories at the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.
The governing body Tennis Australia had invited her to Melbourne to honour her incredible 1970 grand slam when she won all four majors in a single year.
Court, 77, who is a senior pastor at the Pentecostal Victory Life Centre in Osborne Park, Perth, was midway through her sermon on Sunday morning when she referred to the backlash sparked by her denunciation of same-sex ‘marriage’ and attacks on sexual minorities.
‘I can go on television and if I say: ‘This is what the Bible says’, well, it’s like opening a can of worms,’ she said.
‘You think: My goodness, you’d let a torpedo off or something. No it’s true – because they hate the word of God …
‘Even that LGBT in the schools — it’s of the devil, it’s not of God, and most Christians wouldn’t even know what it says within there (the Bible).’
Court said it was wrong to plant ideas in children’s heads that would cause them to question who they are.
‘And you know when children are making the decision at seven or eight years of age to change their sex,’ she said.
‘No, just read the first two chapters of Genesis, that’s all I say: ‘Male and female’.’
Court said for Christians, the Bible was the road map to a successful life.
‘Do you know, with that LGBT they’ll wish they never put the ‘T’ on the end of it because particularly in women’s sport they’re going to have so many problems,’ she said.
‘And you’ve got young people taking hormones and having changes – by the time they’re 17 they think: ‘but now I’m a boy and really I was a girl’. Because you know what? God’s made us that way.’
Court went on to say that being ‘gay’ was ‘a choice’.
She has previously said tennis is ‘full of lesbians’.
Tennis Australia has previously had a difficult task trying to distance itself from Court’s controversial views while honouring her sporting achievements.
In a statement on 30 November announcing Court’s invitation to the Australian Open, Tennis Australia said Court’s views had ‘demeaned and hurt’ many in their community over a number of years.
‘They do not align with our values of equality, diversity and inclusion,’ the statement said.
‘Our sport welcomes everyone, no matter what gender, ability, race, religion or sexuality, and we will continue to actively promote inclusion initiatives widely at all levels of the sport.’
Court’s views have split the community with some defending her right to express her sincerely held religious views.
3AW radio host Neill Mitchell condemned attempts to ‘bully’ her from her place in tennis history.
He defended Court in November, saying unlike Israel Folau she was not saying ‘gay’ people would go to hell.
‘She has gay people within her church and says it’s their choice,’ he said on his radio show in November.
‘But she’s got an opinion on gay marriage and now she’s being bullied out of her place in tennis history for that opinion.’
Tennis Australia said the body respects Court’s right to express her opinion, but said that came with the obligation not to harm others.
‘We understand that there are consequences to our words,’ the governing body said in an open letter dated November 30.
‘Publicly stated views of intolerance and demeaning language about others can have enormous impact, and are particularly hurtful and harmful to those who believe they are targeted.
‘We have a big responsibility as a sport to play a leadership role in supporting an inclusive community, and respecting the rights of all Australians, whether or not they play our great sport.
‘Similarly, we believe any public figure has a big responsibility to ensure their views are expressed in a way that demonstrates respect and tolerance, and does not cause harm to, or degrade others.
As a sport, tennis is unwavering in playing our part to ensure an inclusive society. We cannot condone views that fracture our incredible tennis community, nor indeed, the wider community.’
Court’s four children have released a statement saying they were disappointed by Tennis Australia’s extraordinary open letter and hoped generations to come would continue to have the freedom of speech to express their beliefs.
‘As mum is a minister of religion it is her job to stand for Biblical principles,’ the statement said.
‘Mum has always been very Bible based in her Christian beliefs and that is the reason why we have such a strong loving family.
‘It is hard for her family to understand how her current lifestyle would possibly affect her Tennis Career in any way. It is disappointing to see Tennis Australia in the Open Letter amalgamating her sporting career which she won for the nation.’