The awards are usually announced during the
Australia Day holiday on Jan. 26, which comes this year just as
the Australian Open, one of the world's big four tennis Grand
Slams, begins in Melbourne after a delay caused by the
Court is to be awarded a Companion in the General Division of
the Order of Australia (AC), the highest category of honor,
after previously receiving recognition in 2007, media reported.
Court won 24 singles Grand Slam titles in her career and 40
doubles Grand Slams, before retraining as a Pentecostal pastor.
Her award has not been officially confirmed but Victoria state
leader Daniel Andrews referred to it on social media, without
naming her, saying he did not "want to give this person’s
disgraceful, bigoted views any oxygen".
"But when others insist on rewarding them with this country's
highest honor – I think it's worth saying again: Grand Slam wins
don't give you some right to spew hatred and create division,"
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had no "official
knowledge" of Court's award.
"It is a system that recognises the full spectrum of individuals
across this country," Morrison said of the awards.
Neither Court nor her spokeswoman were immediately available for
In her most recent public comments on gay issues, Court in 2019
criticised transgender athletes and called the teaching of LGBT
material in schools the work of the devil.
She made those comments at the Perth church she set up decades
ago where she is a pastor.
In response, tennis greats Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe
said her name should be stripped from the Melbourne Park
showcourt and replaced with that of Australia's former world
number one, Evonne Goolagong.
"You name buildings after not what people just did on the court,
but also off the court, the whole body of work," Navratilova, an
18-times Grand Slam champion who is openly gay, said on the
Tennis Channel at the time.
Court said then she had been treated unfairly because of her
views on "gay marriage and all of those areas".
(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Robert Birsel)
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