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Sport Gallen unloads on Margaret Court same-sex furore

04:45  12 november  2019
04:45  12 november  2019 Source:   wwos.nine.com.au

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Margaret Court at the 2017 Australian Open.© Getty Margaret Court at the 2017 Australian Open. Margaret Court's tennis achievements should be recognised in isolation from her hardline views on same-sex marriage, NRL legend and boxer Paul Gallen says.

Gallen will on Friday fight Barry Hall at the Melbourne Park arena bearing Court's name.

"Why can't they separate the two issues? Why can't we all be mature enough to separate the two issues?" Gallen told Nine's Sports Sunday.

"Why do you have to hate so much on things? I'm not with what she says at all (against same-sex marriage), no one is. But can we not separate and celebrate her tennis career?"

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There have been calls for the arena to be renamed due to Court's rejection of same-sex marriage, while there is an ongoing furore about whether the 50th anniversary of Court's 1970 Grand Slam should be celebrated at the next Australian Open; as Rod Laver's 1969 Slam was this year.

Tennis Australia has tried to find a compromise, amid fears that top players may protest playing on Margaret Court Arena or even boycott the Australian Open. Icons of women's tennis such as Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova are leading voices on LGBTIQ rights.

It has been reported that Tennis Australia will recognise Court's achievement at the Open, without hosting an overt celebration as it did for the universally-beloved Laver.

Gallen said that Court's tennis careers, which reaped a record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, should be recognised despite the widespread view that her same-sex marriage stance is no longer acceptable.

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"How many titles did she win? Twenty-four titles. Why can't we celebrate that?" Gallen asked.

"Her opinions don't reflect what she did in tennis all those years ago."

Gallen said his only caveat was that Court should not take the opportunity to further advance her controversial views during the Open.

Barry Hall smiling for the camera: Barry Hall and Paul Gallen will fight at Margaret Court Arena on Friday.© Getty Barry Hall and Paul Gallen will fight at Margaret Court Arena on Friday.

Gallen was backed by former Australian cricket captain Mark Taylor, one of the nation's most respected sporting leaders.

Taylor pointed out that Court had won as many Grand Slam singles titles at one event - her home Open - as Laver had won in his entire career (albeit with a window of ineligibility as a professional from 1963-68; he won eight 'Pro Slam' titles alongside 11 Slams).

"Eleven Australian Open wins - that's why it's called the Margaret Court Arena," Taylor said on Sports Sunday.

"I'm with Gal, I think you've got to separate the two and say, 'Look, Margaret Court's opinions aren't going to change. They would have been the same opinions she had 50 years ago. They're not going to change'.

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"I think Tennis Australia have got to say, 'They're her opinions, they're not necessarily tennis opinions but she was a fantastic tennis player and gave this country a name in women's tennis'."

Roy Emerson, Ken Rosewall, Novak Djokovic, Frank Sedgman, Rod Laver standing next to a person in a suit and tie: Rod Laver (R) at the 2019 Australian Open with champion Novak Djokovic (C).© AAP Rod Laver (R) at the 2019 Australian Open with champion Novak Djokovic (C).

Former Matildas footballer Amy Chapman said that Tennis Australia had already "strongly recognised" Court's achievements by putting her name on a Melbourne Park arena.

"For me, she's actively undermining the values of Tennis Australia," Chapman said on Sports Sunday.

"Diversity/inclusion is one of their biggest values and she's actively going out there (refuting that), so they have every right (not) to use her as an ambassador. Good on Tennis Australia."

Taylor replied: "Diversity/inclusion means you've got to include Margaret Court."

Chapman: "But they've still got Margaret Court (Arena) named after her, they're not pulling that away, but they don't have to celebrate her if she doesn't represent them."

Gallen wins no new Melbourne fans .
Paul Gallen didn't win any new fans in Melbourne after saying he should have won his Code War fight against Barry Hall, which was scored a majority draw.The Friday night fight at Margaret Court Arena was declared a majority draw after two judges scored it that way while one gave former NRL star Gallen the win.

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