Four-time grand slam doubles champion Rennae Stubbs says she fully backs activists showing their support for gay rights at the Australian Open starting next week.
Stubbs, who has been open about her homosexuality for six years, said it was only fair that people had the same voice as former Australian great Margaret Court, who prompted a recent backlash because of her anti-gay views.
”Margaret has said her feelings and it’s public and it has leverage so I think this is the only way the people feel that they can be heard – through a sign of solidarity,” Stubbs said
”Through getting together and letting people know how they feel. As long as it is done tastefully, that’s the most important thing for me.”
Court, a 24-time grand slam singles title winner who is now a senior pastor at a church in Perth, once blamed lesbianism for ruining women’s tennis and more recently earned the ire of homosexual groups for her vocal opposition to gay marriage.
In response, the Facebook group, ”Rainbow Flags Over Margaret Court Arena”, urged people to display gay pride colours at next week’s Open. Court said any protest would not stop her from attending.
Stubbs said it was important for people of Court’s standing to stop and think about what effect their comments might have.
”I hope that people that are in public life and have a forum like she does and like some of us do in television and in print – we realise that facts are important as well,” said Stubbs, who played on the women’s tennis tour for two decades and is now a commentator with the Seven Network.
”I think sometimes comments get made that aren’t factual, and that’s the problem. This is a belief and if you are going to say these things publicly you have to understand there could be some ramifications for some people.
”I think that Margaret has her beliefs and I don’t preach against them … but I don’t go out publicly and say something about it.”
Stubbs said Court’s stance could affect players in ways the 69-year-old had not considered.
”Everybody on tour is going to go about their business, whether you are gay or straight, that’s the most important thing … but could it be harder for them because they are conflicted or feel bigotry? I’d say so,” Stubbs said.
”That’s one of the reasons I came out – because I didn’t want to feel like I was looking over my shoulder and wondering what the next move would be in my life.”