In the court of public opinion, that’s a double fault, Margaret


Mrs Court this is a rather difficult situation, as you will appreciate. Once again, we congratulate you on your many tennis achievements – more indeed, than any female player, ever. But we are, frankly, bemused by any suggestion that we haven’t honoured you. You’d surely agree the “Margaret Court Arena” is an extraordinary honour? And you would agree that our resistance – so far – against all calls to change the name because of your intensely unpleasant homophobic remarks, is a sign of our enduring good will?

Which brings us to the most delicate part of all . . .

You will recall a couple of years ago citing the bible as you proclaimed that the only legitimate love is that between a man and a woman. Your starting point was that when it comes to the LGBT+ community, we are not all equal beneath the Southern Cross, because they are the work of “the devil’’. This not only trashed the gays among your followers, it trashed you among our many followers, and it meant that honouring a homophobic zealot became problematic for us. For after you assert those with a different sexuality to you are not your equal, it is frankly a bit much for you to say you want equal treatment to Rod Laver, who has never brought anything but honour to the game and his name. At Tennis Australia, we have no religious views whatsoever, and welcome everyone. Nevertheless, seeing as the bible seems to be the only reference point you recognise, in the face of your loud attacks on us I feel I must cite St Paul’s advice in 1 Timothy 2:12, where the great saint says: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she must be silent.”

Or Ephesians 5:22: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”

Or 1 Corinthians 11:3-10: “The head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man . . . For man did not come from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for women, but women for man.”

Margaret Court and Rod Laver.Credit:AP, Shaughn and John

I trust you see our point? At Tennis Australia, we believe in equality and inclusion. For us to publicly honour those who trash those values is problematic. And for you to ask for equal honouring to Rod Laver, when it goes against the teachings of the very bible you use to trash gays is . . . a bit much, frankly. And yes, I realise you may find it hard when people criticise you and ignore your achievements in tennis simply because they don’t like the views you have chosen to express. But that might be how the gays feel, when you discount and criticise them, simply because of the sexuality they were born with? The alternative to having no tolerance for intolerance is to tolerate it, in which case nothing would change. And we are changing, in tune with the world.

Nevertheless, we offer our regards, regardless,

Peter FitzSimons
Tennis Australia Media Director

Boks of kicks

“There are only three kinds of people in this world,” so the old saying goes. “Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who say ‘What the f**k just happened?’”

Last Saturday evening in Yokohoma for the final of the Rugby World Cup, those spots were filled, in order, by: 1. The Springboks; 2. The rugby public around the world; 3. The English team.
And yet, despite the fact that I am firmly in Camp 2, I still want a piece of the reaction of Camp 3.
How did England falter so badly? Where the hell was the team from the week before that completely decimated the once mighty All Blacks, who had themselves belted South Africa three weeks before that?

I mean, I always knew that England would struggle a little because of the powers of my Kiss of Death, and I acknowledged as much in my column:
“England,” I wrote, “is so strong, soooooooo strong I tell you, that they will even survive my Kiss of Death, and romp home . . . my pick might not knock ten or a dozen points off them, but there will still be plenty of points left over to best the Boks by as many.”

Well, I knew my Kiss of Death was powerful, but had no clue it was that powerful! And it still doesn’t explain the absolute rout of England, any more than the fact that South Africa rose to the occasion by playing with more intensity and better execution.

In the end, there were two explanations. The loss of the English prop, Kyle Sinckler, to concussion turned the English scrum into a rusty shopping trolley, wheeled all over the field at will. Secondly, the brutally boring South African game plan managed to completely snooker the English. It reminded me of the great Parramatta Eels fly-half Johnny Peard who, forty odd years ago, perfected the precision “bomb” – a ball hoisted so high to the heavens that it gave his entire team every chance to be under it when it landed near the quivering opposing fullback somewhere near his line, making it just about 50/50 who would get possession. Peard was so dominant with it they had to change the rules.

In the case of the Springboks at the World Cup final though, it was the Bok halfback Faf de Klerk who unveiled dozens of “Boks kicks’’. Don’t worry about getting it to the back line, just keep doing endless small kicks about 25 metres downfield to the opposing winger right by the sideline. As you rush up, the sideline cuts off one possible direction for the winger to go, so if you frame your angles right you can smash into him with his back to the wall and often either push him over the sideline or force an error. Repeat, dozens of times, and win the game!

And they did. It was deadly dull rugby, but effective – particularly against a team that would have murdered them in open play. England just never got into the match, and never looked like winning.

Beyond such churlish comments on their triumph, however, the true highlight of the match came afterwards when the Springbok captain Siya Kolisi spoke, just as he was about to be the first black man to lift the Cup in triumph as the winning captain.

Such poise! Such humility! Such charisma. This was a bloke born the day before South Africa’s wretched Apartheid laws were repealed, now captaining his country to a glorious victory, with all of South Africa – black and white – right behind him. It was something unthinkable during the Apartheid era and stunning proof of just how far that country has come in the last quarter-century.
And Kolisi is a man all of rugby can be proud of.

Whipped with a feather

TFF has already noted horse racing’s extraordinarily blase attitude to cheating, how proven perpetrators tend to be suspended for just short periods for things which would see them banned for perpetuity in other sports.

The same blase attitude was on display in the Melbourne Cup. The jockey who came second, Michael Walker, riding Prince of Arran, was proven to have whipped his horse with seven lashes more than the allowable amount. He was fined $10,000 for his trouble and banned for seven-meetings.

Reader Steve O’Reilly makes a very strong point in reply:  “Can you imagine a swimmer wearing a banned super suit and winning a gold medal? Or an NRL team breaching the salary cap and winning the premiership? Perhaps a golfer using an illegal broomstick putter and winning the US Masters?

Or the Wallabies winning the Webb Ellis Cup with 17 players on the field? Yet, as a jockey, you can break the whip rule and still win a Melbourne Cup together with all the prizemoney and kudos that brings.’’

The obvious solution, for starters, is to ban the whip outright.

What They Said

James Maloney, settling in with the Catalans Dragons: “French is a bit of a challenge. My wife and I went to the pharmacy to pick up a flu remedy and I think we ended up with a packet of condoms, which is a bit late for us with four kids.”

Greg Norman, likening the hitting of a golf ball – and I am not making this up – to being “as good as having an orgasm’’: “I’m deadly serious, there’s an absolute rush. The rotation of your body, the timing, the feel, the sound, the end results, the visual side of the ball taking off from the club face . . . it’s just such a sensual feeling.” Someone will have to tell him the true joys of orgasms that are not self-imposed.

Greg Norman: “Very few people know this: when Tiger won the Masters this year, I wrote him a handwritten note and drove down my road, maybe a quarter of a mile, and hand-delivered it to his guard at his gate. ‘I said, “Hey, this is Greg Norman here. I’ve got a note for Tiger. Can you please hand-deliver it to him?’ Well, I never heard a word back from the guy.” It’s alright Tiger, you can come out from behind the couch. Look, we know what it’s like, but it’s OK, he’s gone now.

Fiona Crawford, the co-author of Never Say Die: The Hundred-Year Overnight Success of Australian Women’s Football, on the historic pay deal which sees the Matildas get equal freight to the Socceroos: “At last they will be properly paid for playing rather than paying for the privilege of playing.”

Eddie Jones after the World Cup final: “We weren’t good enough and we got beaten by a better team.”

Headline in The Guardian following the World Cup win: “England were as miserable as the weather.”

South African coach Rassie Erasmus: “In South Africa [pressure] is not having a job, having a close relative who is murdered. Rugby should not create pressure, it should create hope. We have a privilege, not a burden.”

Francois Pienaar on this Springbok win against the one he captained in 1995: “This is bigger. It is a transformed team with 58 million people watching in South Africa, all races wearing green, which wouldn’t have happened in my time.”

South African captain Siya Kolisi: “We have so many problems in our country but a team like this, we come from different backgrounds, different races but we came together with one goal and we wanted to achieve it. I really hope we’ve done that for South Africa. Just shows that we can pull together if we want to achieve something.”

Cathy Shabalala, a 25-year-old South African on the World Cup win: “As South Africans, this feels so great. We are not always like this. And the bonus is we have played against our old colonisers and we have beaten them! We have killed them!”

Ash Barty, after winning the Players Championship in China: “First and foremost, thank you to the shitty – ah, the city – of Shenzen.”

Twitter account of the MCG replying to claims it’s the fun police: “Hi Daniel, we can confirm there were no issues associated with the building of the ‘bucket pyramid’ at tonight’s T20 International.”

Wellington Phoenix player Louis Fenton is not a fan of VAR: “I thought 100 per cent no pen. It didn’t f***ing hit my hand. It’s f***ed.”

Jason Taumalolo rated Tonga’s sensational victory over Australia as a career highlight, topping the 2015 premiership he won with North Queensland: “That’s right up there alongside the premiership. I reckon it’s probably one [better]. That was probably my biggest game. This is the highlight of my career.”

Mal Meninga after losing to Tonga: “Anytime the Aussies get beaten it’s good for the game. That’s what we live with.”

Bet Easy’s chief executive Matt Tripp to The Oz: “Turnover has decreased on each of the major race days in the Melbourne spring carnival, and that has continued on Melbourne Cup Day. There’s been a drop in the number of people having a bet on the major races themselves and this has been enough to drive down overall turnover.”

Ash Barty capped an incredible season with a big win at the WTA finals in Shenzhen.

Ash Barty capped an incredible season with a big win at the WTA finals in Shenzhen.Credit:Getty Images

Team of the Week

Matildas  In a move that made headlines and led sports bulletins around the world, they are now on the same pay deal as Socceroos.

Ash Barty  They don’t call her “Cash” Barty for nothing! Won $US 11,307,587 in this last season, second only to the $US 12.3 million of Serena Williams in 2013, and the $US 4.42 million she won last weekend was the largest tennis prize in history. And though just 23, she is now 24th on the list for most money earned in a career by a female player, ahead of such names as Seles, Capriati, Evert, and Sabatini and surpasses male players such as Rafter, Courier and Safin.

Alyssa Healy and Ellyse Perry  Combined for an unbeaten 199 runs, a world record partnership in any major women’s domestic Twenty20 competition. Tonga. Their victory over the Kangaroos last Saturday means they have beaten Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand in the last two years, giving league a much need fourth contender for what is otherwise a farce of international competition.

South Africa Have now won the Rugby World Cup three times – equal to the All Blacks – a feat all the more impressive for the fact that they did not participate in the first two World Cups in 1987 and 1991.

Melbourne Cup  Shed 750,000 viewers in comparison to last year as #NupToTheCup took off on social media, and they had the lowest number of attendees in the last quarter-century. It happened in the same week that the Dapto Dogs – wonderfully – announced it was closing down, even if that decision is now in legal dispute.

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