AUSTRALIAN OPEN: Margaret Court, Tim Tebow. New Millenium’s Muhammad Ali?

Margaret Court

Tim Tebow

Maybe Margaret Court and Tim Tebow are the new millennium’s Muhammad Ali.

Let me explain. Now, even the “Happy Slam” in tennis is about to be overrun by political fights and protests. On the eve of the Australian Open, the year’s first major, tennis legend Margaret Court, now a pastor, is in a nasty fight with Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King over gay marriage. Protests are planned for Monday in and around Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne. Gay-rights activists are calling for a change of the stadium’s name.

Tennis might be the one sport that has accepted people’s sexuality, even championed it in some ways. And now this?

Well, yes. In an uncomfortable turn to the mix of politics with fun and games, outspokenness in sports is now coming from the right, not the left. The right-wingers are now the risk-takers, risking public scorn.

Please read the rest of the column at FoxSports.com

Muhammad Ali

About gregcouch

I can talk tennis all day long, and often do. And yet some of the people I talk to about it might rather I talk about something else. Or with someone else. That’s how it is with tennis, right? Sort of an addiction. Sort of a high. I am a national columnist at FoxSports.com and a FoxSports1 TV insider, and have been a columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times. In 2010, I was the only American sports writer to cover the full two weeks of all four majors, and also to cover each of the U.S. Masters series events. I’ve seen a lot of tennis, talked with a lot of players, coaches, agents. I watched from a few rows behind the line judge as Serena rolled her foot onto the baseline for the footfault, a good call, at the 2009 U.S. Open. I sat forever watching a John Isner marathon, leaving for Wimbledon village to watch an England World Cup soccer game at a pub and then returning for hours of Isner, sitting a few feet from his wrecked coach. I got to see Novak Djokovic and Robin Soderling joke around on a practice court on the middle Sunday at Wimbledon, placing a small wager on a tiebreaker. Djokovic won, and Soderling pulled a bill out of his wallet, crumpled it into his fist and threw it at Djokovic, who unwadded it, kissed it, and told me, “My work is done here.’’ And when Rafael Nadal won the French Open in 2010, I finished my column, walked back out onto the court, and filled an empty tic tac container with the red clay. I’m looking at it right now. Well, I don’t always see the game the same way others do. I can be hard on tennis, particularly on the characters in suits running it. Tennis has no less scandal and dirt than any other game. Yet somehow, it seems to be covered up, usually from an incredible web of conflicts of interest. I promise to always tell the truth as I see it. Of course, I would appreciate it if you’d let me know when I’m wrong. I love sports arguments and hope to be in a few of them with you here. Personal info: One-handed backhand, serve-and-volleyer. View all posts by gregcouch

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