Petition to rename Margaret Court Arena

More than 11,000 people have signed a petition demanding that Margaret Court Arena be renamed due to the tennis star’s  recent comments about same-sex marriage.

Ms Court sparked controversy last month after she said she would refuse to fly Qantas over the chief executive’s stance on marriage equality.

The petition to rename the Melbourne landmark named after Ms Court was launched by Vanessa Campbell on Change.Org, after she read this article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

“I think that its unrealistic that Court’s public pronouncements can be separated from her sporting achievements,” Ms Campbell told Hatch.

Ms Campbell said she had been surprised and pleased by the strong response to her petition.

“I’ve looked through many of the comments,” she said.

“There are so many great comments on there. I loved this one: ‘Because, though our country must sometimes tolerate bigotry and hate, it should never honour it’.”

Ms Campbell’s petition will be delivered to Melbourne and Olympic Park, and to Tennis Australia, if it reaches its 15,000-signature target.

Melbourne and Olympic Parks did not return a request for an interview for this story but has distanced itself via social media from Margaret Court’s comments:

Tennis Australia has also issued a distancing statement via Twitter:

Last week Google Maps appeared to have waded into the debate, when visitors to Google Maps noticed the Margaret Court Arena was briefly renamed Evonne Goolagong-Cawley Arena. It was changed back a few hours later.

Ms Campbell supports renaming the arena after Ms Goolagong-Cawley and says she hopes the petition will make a difference – but she’s not overly optimistic.

“I think that if the petition is accompanied by other protests and action it could be useful. On its own though, it’d probably be fairly easy to ignore,” she told Hatch.

Story and feature image by Ashlyne McInnes.