The renowned tennis player Margaret Court again found herself at the center of the scandal after it became known that in the near future she could be nominated for the title of Companion of the Order of Australia, the country's highest award.
Court's potential award was revealed by accident through a media leak.
Traditionally, the list of applicants for the Order, nominated by a special council and approved by the Governor-General, is traditionally kept secret and made public only at the awards ceremony on Australia Day - January 26.
The athlete already has the status of an officer of the Order of Australia, and now she is planned to be nominated for the rank of Companion of the Order - at the moment this is the highest awarded degree of this award.
According to media reports, she will receive an award with the wording "for an outstanding tennis career as a world-famous player and record holder for the number of victories in Grand Slam tournaments, as well as a mentor of young athletes."
A number of activists and politicians have criticized the idea of awarding the Order to Court because of her beliefs.
The 24-time Grand Slam singles winner has long been known for her criticism of gay marriage and the gay lobby.
The athlete herself emphasizes that her views are based on religion and the ability to share them is very important from the point of view of freedom of speech.
Victoria's Prime Minister Daniel Andrews called the ex-tennis player's beliefs shameful and fanatical.
In his opinion, because of them, she should not receive the award.
“When others insist on rewarding such a person with the highest mark of honor, I think it is worth recalling: victories at Grand Slam tournaments do not give the right to sow hatred and create discord.
Nothing gives, ”wrote Andrews on Twitter.
Australian Member of Parliament Anthony Albanese said that the presentation of the order was allegedly not related to the sporting merit of Court.
Senator from Tasmania Nick McKim called it an insult to everyone "affected" by her beliefs, and Western Australian Prime Minister Mark McGowan said that there are many "unsung heroes" in the country besides Margaret Court.
However, some dissatisfied with the decision of the council went even further.
Klara Tak Meng Su, a medal holder of the Order of Australia, a well-known doctor in Australia, returned her award in protest.
In her opinion, the assignment of the new title Court supposedly means the promotion of "discrimination and prejudice."
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison declined to comment on the upcoming award, only reminding that the award is given for various achievements.
Court herself emphasized that she did not intend to change her position, which she had every right to, and urged critics to focus on her athletic success.
“I think it's very sad that people still cling to this and want to offend me.
I think it's time to move on.
I represented my country, I always defend my nation, which I love.
Hardly anyone will be able to take it away from me, and I am very proud of it, "- quotes the words of Court ABC.
One of those who supported the legendary tennis player was her sister Jun Shenaheng.
In her opinion, Court earned the award for her hard work, so it is not fair to deprive her of that.
In addition, she recalled that for many decades the ex-athlete has been doing charity work and helping those in need.
“People who criticize her, especially the Victoria Prime Minister ... I was disgusted with what he said.
If he saw what she was doing, then he would regret his words now.
She is trusted, tons of food goes to her church every day.
It's not as bad as some are trying to portray.
She is a good woman and helps so many people, ”Shenaheng quoted The Sidney Morning Herald as saying.
It is worth noting that this is not the first time that Court has been attacked for her beliefs.
In this regard, for example, there have been repeated calls to rename the central stadium Australian Open, named in her honor in 2003.
Such statements reappeared after the publication of messages about the potential awarding of the order to the athlete.
They were supported by 18-time Grand Slam winner Martin Navratilova.
In addition, Margaret Court was no longer invited to the Australian Open as a guest of honor for her views.