Campaign to change name of Margaret Court Arena gathers steam

Margaret Court.

Google Maps is ahead of the curve. The growing calls for the Margaret Court Arena to be renamed in response to the tennis star’s offensive homophobic comments has resulted in Google Maps renaming the Melbourne arena the Evonne Goolagong Arena.

Google says the renaming was an error it was “working to fix”, but it might find it has to change it back once more if the petition, that has gathered almost 9000 signatures behind its call to rename the arena, is successful.

The petition calls for renaming the Margaret Court Arena after Aboriginal tennis start Evonne Goolagon. It comes in response to Court’s widely criticised homophobic comments, including the fundamentalist Christian’s stated intention to boycott Qantas over its CEO’s support for marriage equality and claims she is the victim of a “gay lobby” conspiracy funded from the US.

The petition, directed at Tennis Australia and the Melbourne and Olympic Parks Trust, explains: “We think it is unsuitable for your arena to continue to be named in honour of someone who has been consistently outspoken about her opposition to equality, diversity and inclusion.

“Evonne Goolagong, who was Australian of the year in 1971, is also a great Australian tennis champion. She has a reputation for generosity and inclusiveness. She is a far more suitable candidate for the official name of your stadium.”

A host of tennis stars, past and present, have lined up to condemn Court’s stance. Fellow tennis star Martina Navratilova has written an open letter slamming Court’s comments and backing calls to rename the arena.

“I think the Evonne Goolagong Arena has a great ring to it," Navratilova wrote. “Now there is a person we can all celebrate. On every level.”