The difference between Margaret Court and any number of legends is that we know her moral code, but not theirs. Does that make her more objectionable or merely them more politic? What special insights into the human condition do game players have anyway that we should even care? Let’s get real.
Court’s views on gay marriage are abhorrent to most. But when she proffers them, it is not as a tennis great from long ago, rather as the principal of a recently-invented church with self-conferred authority and about as many members as Pat Rafter’s immediate family. If her name was Tennys (a real player’s name, incidentally) Court, not a pixel or a pen stroke would have been wasted on them.
Of course, you cannot separate the tennis-playing Court and the zealot entirely, but nor should you fail to make the distinction. Indeed, a mature society, an adult society can and must make it if it is not to be regarded as lazy. We must distinguish between heroes and models. A slice backhand is not and can never be a character reference. But it can be appreciated for what it is.
Court’s attitude is offensive to gay people. But standing with the offended does not always mean standing on the offender(s), or else how are we different from and better than them? How is one pile-on better than another?
Besides, erasing her name from a stadium and/or pooping her grand slam party won’t work. Suppression never does. When Pauline Hanson first gave voice to her miserable world view, the nation’s instinct was not to argue her down, but shout her down. That was nearly 25 years ago, and look now. That’s reality.
Enlightenment has won, or is far ahead. Gay marriage is a lawful fact. That history won’t be turned back. It leaves Court on the moral spectrum where she sits in the sporting universe, out on her own. As a tennis player, she remains unsurpassed. As a moral exemplar, she is being laughed out of, ahem, court. If anything, she has inadvertently reaffirmed the vows we made as a community in 2017.
Two years later, is a single person going to consider their own position in the light of the views of an elderly woman with a sclerotic philosophy and a fringe following who just happens once to have swung a tennis racquet with some dexterity? That’s not the real world.
Court’s due is because of her grand slam, a sporting triumph achieved in 1970, and she should have it. To mark her jubilee is not to endorse her moral stance half a century later, unless we choose to make one a factor of the other, unless we choose to create a straw woman.
As for removing from a stadium the nameplate of anyone with a dated, repugnant or unconscionable outlook, there had better be a lot of handymen with a lot of screwdrivers at the ready.