Rising British tennis star Laura Robson inadvertently found herself party to controversy surrounding a flag-waving protest at the Australian Open yesterday.
Wearing a rainbow-coloured scrunchie in her hair, Australian-born Robson, 17, left the court to questions from the press about her support for a peaceful protest against Margaret Court’s recent comments on the ‘choice’ of homosexuality.
The protest organizers came under fire by Bernie Finn, Liberal MP, on radio station Sydney Radio 2UE who described to have Court’s name removed from the arena as “rainbow fascism.”
Finn went on to say that some gay “extremists” had done a disservice to their own cause.
Robson told the press that she didn’t wear the hair band to make a political statement, and she “didn’t see anything about a protest”.
She said: “I wore it because I believe in equal rights for everyone. That’s it.”
The teen tennis star was aware of the comments made by Court, now an evangelical Christian church leader, but did not address her comments directly.
A few flags were visible, which did not cause a huge stir, but the protest coordinator Doug Pollard had said, “We are not asking for a lot of noise,” but they “ just wanted to say that we don’t agree with all the lies Margaret Court has been peddling. “
Court also later denied homophobia, but said in an interview with the New York Times that it was the “choice” she took issue with, rather than the person themselves.
Tennis Australia, the Australian governing body over the sport distanced themselves from Court’s comments and issued a statement which said: “We concur wholeheartedly with the WTA [Women's Tennis Association] who stated that ‘all human beings, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or otherwise, should be treated equally.'”
Openly gay tennis player Martina Navratilova, who came out in two decades ago, told tennischannel.com: “A lot of people have evolved, as has the Bible. Unfortunately, Margaret Court has not … Her myopic view is truly frightening as well as damaging to the thousands of children already living in same-gender families.”
Laura Robson’s accidental protest overshadowed her performance in the competition, which she exited in the first round after 69 minutes.