Margaret Court AO, MBE (née Smith; born 16 July 1942), also known as Margaret Smith Court, is a retired World No. 1 professional tennis player and Christian minister from Australia. She is best known for her sporting career, in which she amassed more Major titles than any other player in history.
In 1970, Court became the first woman during the open era (and the second woman in history) to win the singles Grand Slam (all four majors in the same calendar year). Court won a (still current) record 24 of those titles during her career. She also won 19 women's doubles and 21 mixed doubles titles, giving her a record 64 Major titles overall. She is the only woman to win the mixed doubles Grand Slam, and she did it twice. Her all time, all surfaces (hard, clay, grass and carpet) singles career winning percentage of 91.68 (1180–107) is an all-time record. Her Open era singles career winning percentage of 91.37% (593–56) is also unequaled. Her win-loss performance in all Grand Slam singles tournaments was 90.12% (210–23). She was 95.31% (61–3) at the Australian Open, 90.38% (47–5) at the French Open, 85.10% (51–9) at Wimbledon and 89.47% (51–6) at the US Open. She also shares the Open Era record for most Grand Slam singles titles as a mother with Kim Clijsters. The International Tennis Hall of Fame states, "For sheer strength of performance and accomplishment there has never been a tennis player to match (her)". She is regarded by some to be the greatest female tennis player of all time. Court is one of only five tennis players all-time to win a multiple slam set in two disciplines, matching Roy Emerson, Martina Navratilova, Frank Sedgman and Serena Williams. However, Court is the only one in all of tennis history to complete a multiple slam set in all three disciplines, Singles, Doubles and Mixed.
Having converted from Catholicism to Pentecostalism in the 1970s, Court became a Pentecostal Christian minister in 1991, and later founded the Margaret Court Ministries. She is noted as a vocal critic of LGBT rights in Australia.
- 2 Playing style, titles and world rankings
- 3 Religious views and ministry
- 4 Career timeline
- 5 Honours
- 6 Career statistics
- 7 Records
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Margaret Smith was the youngest of the four children of Lawrence Smith and Catherine Smith (née Beaufort). She has two older brothers, Kevin and Vincent, and a sister, June (Shanahan). She is a natural left-hander who was persuaded to change to a right hand grip. She began playing tennis when she was eight years old and was 17 when she won the first of seven consecutive singles titles at the 1960 Australian Championships.
Court became the first female player from Australia to win a Grand Slam tournament abroad, when she won the French and US Championships in 1962. The year after that, she became the first Australian woman to win Wimbledon.
After Wimbledon in 1966, Court temporarily retired from tennis. She married Barry Court in 1967, whose father, Sir Charles Court, and brother, Richard Court, would both go on to serve aspremiers of Western Australia. She returned to tennis in 1968 and won all four Grand Slam singles titles in 1970. The next year, she lost the Wimbledon singles final to Evonne Goolagong Cawley while pregnant with her first child, Daniel, who was born in March 1972. Court made a comeback the same year and played in the US Open and played throughout 1973. Her second child, Marika, was born in 1974. She started playing again in 1975. After missing most of 1976 after having her third child, she returned to the tour in early 1977 but retired permanently in 1977 when she learned that she was expecting her fourth child. Her last Grand Slam appearance was in 1975.
Court is one of only three players to have achieved a career "boxed set" of Grand Slam titles, winning every possible Grand Slam title – singles, same-sex doubles and mixed doubles – at all four Grand Slam events. The others are Doris Hart and Martina Navratilova. Court, however, is the only person to have won all 12 Grand Slam events at least twice. She also is unique in having completed a boxed set before the start of the open era in 1968 and a separate boxed set after the start of the open era.
Court lost a heavily publicised and US–televised challenge match to a former World No. 1 male tennis player, the 55-year-old Bobby Riggs, on 13 May 1973, in Ramona, California. Court was the top-ranked women's player at the time, and it has been reported that she did not take the match seriously, due to it being an exhibition. Using a mixture of lobs and drop shots, Riggs beat her 6–2, 6–1. Four months later, Billie Jean King beat Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes match in the Houston Astrodome.Margaret Court at the net in 1970
During the 1960s Court was considered to have a very long reach which added a new dimension to women's volleying. With a height and reach advantage and being extremely strong, she was very formidable at net and had a great overhead shot. She was considered unusually mobile for her size and played an all attack, serve and volley style which, when added to her big serve, dominated conservative defensive players. Part of what helped her win was her commitment to fitness training. Ms. Court was dubbed "The Aussie Amazon" because she did weights, circuit training and running along sandy hillsides. This training helped keep her relatively injury-free through most of her career.
Court won a record 62 Grand Slam tournament titles, including a record 24 singles titles, 19 women's doubles titles and a record 19 mixed doubles titles. The total rises to 64 Grand Slam titles (21 mixed doubles) when the shared titles at the Australian Championships/Open in 1965 and 1969 are considered. The mixed doubles finals of those years were not played because of bad weather and the titles are shared by both sides of the finalist pair.
Court won 62 of the 85 Grand Slam tournament finals (72.9%) she played, including 24–5 (82.8%) in singles finals, 19–14 (57.6%) in women's doubles finals and 19–4 (82.6%) in mixed doubles finals.
Court reached the final in 29, the semifinals in 36, and the quarterfinals in 43 of the 47 Grand Slams singles tournaments she played. She won 11 of the 16 Grand Slam singles tournaments she entered beginning with the 1969 Australian Open and ending with the 1973 US Open. She also won 11 of the 17 Grand Slam singles tournaments she entered, beginning with the 1962 Australian Championships and ending with the 1966 Australian Championships. Court was 146–2 (98.6%) against unseeded players in Grand Slam singles tournaments.
Court is the only player to have won the Grand Slam in both singles and mixed doubles. She won the singles Grand Slam in 1970, the mixed doubles Grand Slam in 1963 with fellow Australian Ken Fletcher, and the mixed doubles Grand Slam in 1965 with three different partners (Fletcher, John Newcombe and Fred Stolle).
Court won more than half of all the Grand Slam contests held in 1963 (8 of 12), 1964 (7 of 12), 1965 (9 of 12), 1969 (8 of 12), 1970 (7 of 11) and 1973 (6 of 11).
According to the end-of-year rankings compiled by London's Daily Telegraph from 1914 to 1972, Court was ranked World No. 1 six times: 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1969 and 1970. Court also was ranked No. 1 for 1973 when the official rankings were produced by the Women's Tennis Association.
Born into the Christian faith, Court was raised as a Roman Catholic but converted to Pentecostalism in the mid-1970s. In 1983, she gained a theological qualification from the Rhema Bible Training Centre and in 1991 became a minister. Court subsequently went on to found a ministry known as Margaret Court Ministries. In 1995, Court founded a Pentecostal church known as the Victory Life Centre in Perth. She still serves as its senior pastor. Her television show,A Life of Victory, appears on the Australian Christian Channel. She has generally embraced teachings associated with the Word of Faith movement.
In her role as minister, Court has become a consistent critic of homosexuality in general and same-sex marriage in particular in Australia. In November 1994, when delivering a speech at Parliament House in Canberra, Court exclaimed that "Homosexuality is an abomination to the Lord! Abortion is an abomination to the Lord!" In 2002, she campaigned against laws proposed and passed by the Government of Western Australia that granted same-sex couples the equal legal rights to opposite-sex couples, and in 2011 publicly spoke out against federal government plans to legalize same-sex marriage. Although stating that she does not hate homosexuals and welcomes them into her congregation, she has publicly expressed her opinion that homosexual activity is a sinful "choice" and that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) community are "aggressively demanding marriage rights that are not theirs to take".
Court has been criticised for such statements by openly homosexual tennis players Billie Jean King, Rennae Stubbs and Martina Navratilova, the latter of whom called them "truly frightening". An LGBT rights protest group urged spectators to display rainbow gay flag banners at the Margaret Court Arena during the 2012 Australian Open, and called for the renaming of the venue. Court condemned their actions as "a political stunt". Parodied for her views online, Court has also been criticised by the Australian Press Council (APC) for propagating false and "potentially dangerous" information about homosexuality in an article published in the Herald Sun tabloid. In response, theAustralian Christian Lobby condemned the APC's decision, declaring it to be a "dangerous precedent against free speech".
Margaret Court playing doubles at Wimbledon with Evonne Goolagong*1960 – Won her first singles title at the Australian Championships but lost the junior girls final there to Lesley Turner Bowrey.
- 1962 – Won three of the four Grand Slam singles tournaments.
- 1963 – Became the first Australian woman to win a singles title at Wimbledon. She and Ken Fletcher became the only team to win all four Grand Slam mixed doubles titles during the same calendar year.
- 1964 – Won three of the four Grand Slam mixed doubles tournaments. Her women's doubles title at Wimbledon completed her career "boxed set" of Grand Slam titles.
- 1965 – Won three of the four Grand Slam singles tournaments and all four Grand Slam mixed doubles titles, with three different partners.
- 1966 – Temporarily retired.
- 1969 – Won three of the four Grand Slam singles and mixed doubles tournaments.
- 1970 – Won all four Grand Slam singles tournaments, defeating Kerry Melville Reid in the Australian Open final, Helga Niessen Masthoff in the French Open final, Billie Jean King in the Wimbledon final, and Rosemary Casals in the US Open final. Maureen Connolly Brinker in 1953 and Steffi Graf in 1988 are the only other women who have won all four Grand Slam singles tournaments during the same calendar year.
- 1971 – Won the Australian Championship for the 10th time. After losing the Wimbledon Singles Final, temporarily retired to prepare for the birth of her first child in March 1972.
- 1972 – Returned to the tour after missing the Wimbledon Championships.
- 1973 – Won three of the four Grand Slam singles and women's doubles tournaments. Became the first mother in the open era to win the Australian, French and US Open Championships. Lost her match with Bobby Riggs. Her women's doubles title at the US Open completed a "boxed set" of Grand Slam titles won exclusively after the start of the open era in 1968.
- 1974 – Absent from the game due to the birth of her second child.
- 1975 – Played the final Grand Slam singles match of her career, losing to Martina Navratilova in a quarterfinal of the US Open 6–2, 6–4. Partnered with Virginia Wade at the US Open to win her 62nd Grand Slam title and 19th Grand Slam women's doubles title, defeating King and Casals in the final. This was Court's last Grand Slam title.
- 1976 – Absent from the game due to the birth of her third child.
- 1977 – Played the final singles match of her career, defeating Greer Stevens in the third round of the Virginia Slims Championships of Detroit 5–7, 7–6, 6–3. Court defaulted the quarterfinal to Françoise Dürr upon learning that she was pregnant with her fourth child.
- On 1 January 1967, she was made Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), for her services to sport and international relations.
- In 1963 and 1970, she became winner of the ABC Sportsman of the Year Award.
- In 1970 she also won a Western Australian honor, the Walter Lindrum Award.
- In 1979, Court was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
- In 1985, Court was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame and then elevated to Legend status in 1998.
- In 1993 in Melbourne, she was inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame.
- In 2000, Court was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for her impressive tennis career.
- In 2001, she was awarded the Centenary Medal for her service to Australian tennis.
- In 2003 Court became the recipient of the 2003 Australia Post Australian Legends Award. Australia Post honoured her, together with fellow Australian tennis player Rod Laver by featuring her on postage stamp.
- In 2006 she was awarded the International Tennis Federation's (ITF) accolade, the Philippe Chatrier Award.
- In 2007, she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), for her services to tennis, as a mentor and to the community.
- Records in bold indicate peer-less achievements.
- These are standing records for all time period in tennis history.
- Selected Grand Slam records per tournament
|[show]Time span||Grand Slam tournament records||Players matched|
|Time span||Record accomplished||Players matched|
|1960–1977||All time women's record of 192 Singles titles||Stands alone†|
|1970||Open era record of 21 Singles titles won in one year||Stands alone|
|1973||Tour record of 18 Singles titles won in one year||Stands alone|
|1968–1977||Open era singles career winning percentage: 91.37% (593–56)||Stands alone|
† Some sources have Elizabeth Ryan winning over 200 singles titles in her career.