Margaret Court is a parenthetical, a footnote in the history of women’s tennis, where she’s placed herself, and deserves to remain. Once again the old, out of touch pariah is playing the victim — this time in the wake of Serena Williams’ retirement.
Court, who holds the pre-Open era record for the most wins in tennis history used Williams’ retirement over the weekend to once again take shots at Williams, and tennis in general. Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, the 80-year-old said:
“Serena, I’ve admired her as a player,” Court says. “But I don’t think she has ever admired me.”
Now, far be it from me to assume who Serena does and doesn’t admire, but I’m going to go ahead and assume she doesn’t admire Margaret Court — because Court is unworthy of admiration. When Court says she admires her “as a player” it’s an extremely loaded statement, especially in the wake of a personal history that shows an inability to admire a black person.
In 1970 Court applauded apartheid in South Africa, praising the nation’s racism and segregation policy as being a the best way to manage racial inequality.
“South Africans have this thing better organised than any other country, particularly America.”
In the wake of the civil rights movement in the United States, Court was applauding one of the most racist, brutal, and inhumane segregation policies in the modern world — one which ensured a minority white ruling class maintained control over a predominantly black population. A policy that forced 3.5M South Africans from their homes to move them into segregated neighborhoods, imprisoned Nelson Mandela, and led to the death of 8,500 black South Africans from 1960-1994, according to statistics from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
This was simply being “organized” in Margaret Court’s world. Why would any person of color admire someone with these views?
In recent years Courts has largely been scrubbed from mention, hoisted by her own petard of homophobia. In 1990 she said of Martina Navratilova that it was “sad for children to be exposed to homosexuality,” going on to say that Navratilova’s life had “gone astray,” and since then she’s double-downed on hating the LGBTQ+ community — leading to calls for her name to be removed from Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne.
That hasn’t yet happened, but it certainly will in time. Court disappears, and resurfaces every few years to complain about how tennis has snubbed her, all while proving time and time again why she deserves to be ignored. While praising Williams and offering admiration out of one side of her mouth, out the other she took a chance to slam Williams’ inability to win after coming back from the birth of her child.
“I came back after two babies!” she exclaims. “After having the first baby, I won three out of the four slams. And Serena hasn’t won a slam since.”
In the end, it is what it is. Court is a nasty, hateful, irrelevant old woman who remains angry she blew up her own reputation and legacy because of her prejudice. She now brands criticism of her views as “bullying” because of her religious beliefs, crying about how nobody wants to honor Margaret Court anymore — even in her native Australia.
Serena is the GOAT. Modern tennis is nothing like Court’s era, and deep down she knows that Williams’ achievements eclipse hers 5-times over, regardless of what her “total wins” record says.