Outcry after ex-tenniswoman Margaret Court was promoted to the Order of Australia

Former Australian tennis player Margaret Court on January 27, 2020, for the 50th anniversary of her first Australian Open victory.

AP - Lee Jin-man

Text by: RFI Follow

2 min

Tuesday January 26 was Australia's National Day.

An occasion for which the Order of Australia is also issued, the local equivalent of the French Legion of Honor.

Among the recipients this year: the former tenniswoman Margaret Court, known for her 24 Grand Slam tournament victories - an absolute record -, but also for her homophobic positions or her support for apartheid in South Africa.

This decoration is controversial.


Read more

She is arguably the greatest tennis player in Australia.

She is also a true legend of the sport.

But for 30 years now, Margaret Court has also been an evangelical pastor who defends

homophobic positions


And, when it was under way, she supported

the apartheid


in South Africa


This is why his elevation on Tuesday to the rank of Companion of the Order of Australia, the highest civilian honor in this country, is contested by many voices.

Starting with other distinguished Australians this year, such as journalist Kerry O'Brien or artist Peter Kingston.

They both returned their medals in protest at the honor bestowed on Margaret Court.

Order of Australia embarrassed by Court case

So why has the Order of Australia embarked on this matter, when the controversial views of Margaret Court, 78, have been known for years?

According to the Australian press, this would be a maneuver to restore parity between men and women.

Five years ago, another Australian tennis legend, Rod Laver, became the first tennis player to receive the title of Companion of the Order.

The award committee felt that it was normal for the most successful player in history to receive the same honor… even if it meant triggering a controversy.

In the end, the Order of Australia decided to separate the wife from the athlete.


Receive all the international news directly in your mailbox

I subscribe

Follow all the international news by downloading the RFI application


  • Australia

  • Sports

  • Tennis

On the same subject

Sports / Society

Homophobia in sport resurfaces with rugby player Israel Folau

Apartheid, "crime against humanity", the debate agitates South Africa