The achievements of one of Australia’s most successful and celebrated athletes were roundly ignored by media, who were more interested in her beliefs about same-sex marriage than they were in her sporting success.
Several ABC outlets recently held interviews with tennis great Margaret Court to discuss her new autobiography. Known for winning more major titles than any other tennis player in history, Court is now a Perth-based Christian minister who has written about her life experiences.
The interview, originally centred around promoting her new book, took a more sinister turn when the media focused on her views about gay marriage. An article in The Australian pinpoints specifically what caused upset in multiple media outlets:
“They weren’t really interested in my tennis much; all they were interested in was hitting my beliefs for standing for marriage between a man and a woman,” Court said. “I think we have to look at the fact this is happening, because it was not very nice in there — it was horrible, it was below-the-belt stuff.”
Court, although admitting that she knew that her strongly held beliefs were not widely accepted, had no idea how much negative attention they would receive from the media.
Court stated that some interviews were more vitriolic than others. She specifically listed One Plus One with Jane Hutcheon, Radio National Drive with Patricia Karvelas and an interview with Gaye Pattison, all programs run on the ABC.
[Court] said most ABC interviewers did not seek to understand her point of view: “It would have been nice if they had come from: why do you have such strong beliefs in this area?”
Commentator Alan Jones [link http://www.2gb.com/audioplayer/216726], himself a proponent of same-sex marriage, commented on how offensive this was, not only to Margaret Court, but to the listening public who want to know more about a person than their views on same-sex marriage:
Just imagine squandering a chance to talk to Margaret Court and tell your listeners about an unbelievable tennis career: 62 grand slam titles, that is, Australian, French, Wimbledon and American, in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. Maybe the greatest tennis player ever; an Australian who won her first Australian title at 17 years of age. She has always been a lady of the court. She deserves better than that. I think Margaret’s not the only one that’s angry. I think the listening public would be angry as well.
Margaret Court’s experience only goes to show how our freedom to express our views is slowly being withdrawn. A writer cannot even voice a strongly held personal belief in an autobiography without receiving attacks from the media. Ironically, those who campaign for “tolerance” and who constantly reject the use of labels to define people had no problem in labelling Margaret Court by her beliefs about marriage and nothing more. The moment that people are forced to hide their beliefs to safeguard them, or to avoid being identified by them to the exclusion of all of their other achievements is the moment that freedom no longer exists.