Sydney - Australian great Margaret Court on Wednesday
claimed "tennis is full of lesbians" and transgender children were
the work of "the devil", adding fuel to a simmering row over her
views on homosexuality.
The 24-time Grand Slam champion, now a Christian pastor, has
been the brunt of a fierce backlash after announcing last week she would stop
flying Qantas "where possible" in protest at the airline's support of
It sparked calls, led by Martina Navratilova and supported
by Richel Hogenkamp, one of the few openly gay players in tennis, for the
Australian Open to take her name off one of its flagship stadiums.
Court, 74, has vowed to keep airing her views and didn't
hold back on Vision Christian Radio station.
"I mean, tennis is full of lesbians, because even when
I was playing there was only a couple there, but those couple that led took
young ones into parties and things," she said.
"And you know, what you get at the top is often what
you'll get right through that sport."
Court has long held strong views about homosexuality, which
have previously been slammed by Navratilova and fellow great Billie Jean King,
who are both gay.
She insisted she was not against gay people, but wanted to
"We're there to help them overcome. We're not against
the people," she said.
"They're human beings and 92 percent, they say in
America, have either been abused in some form sexually or emotionally at an
early age for them to even be this way."
Asked about transgender children, she claimed their minds
had been corrupted.
"That's all the devil... but that's what Hitler did and
that's what communism did - got the mind of the children. And there's a whole
plot in our nation, and in the nations of the world to get the minds of the
Navratilova and others have called for her name to be
stripped from the arena at Melbourne Park, where the first Grand Slam event of
the season takes place in January.
There have also been rumblings about players boycotting the
World number one Andy Murray said at the French Open on
Tuesday he hoped the issue could be resolved long before next year's Australian
"For players to be in a position where you're in a slam
and kind of boycotting playing on the court, I think would potentially cause a
lot of issues," he was cited as saying by Australian media.
"So I think if something was going to be happening and
the players come to an agreement, if they think the name should be changed or
whatever, that should be decided before the event - before the event
Tennis Australia and the operator of the Margaret Court
Arena - Melbourne and Olympic Parks - have distanced themselves from Court's
same-sex marriage stance.