GRAND SLAM: Anna Wintour used her keynote speech at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Thursday to volley criticism at both Australian tennis great Margaret Court and the country’s prime minister Scott Morrison over their conservative positions on LGBT issues.
“I want to align myself with that Australian spirit of warmth and openness today,” said Wintour, a longtime LGBT rights campaigner, at the Australian Open Inspirational Series.
She went on to express concerns over the name of the Margaret Court Arena, the second largest venue at the Australian Open.
A campaign has been launched to rename the arena due to Court’s negative commentary in mid-2017 about the LGBT community, notably on the topics of same-sex marriage, which was legalized in Australia in December of that year, and transgender children.
Court has called discussions regarding the latter the work of “the devil.”
“Intolerance has no place in tennis,” said Wintour, echoing sentiments previously expressed about Court, and the arena’s name, by athletes including Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova.
“Margaret Court was a champion on the court, but a meeting point for players of all nations preferences and backgrounds should celebrate somebody who was a champion off the court as well,” she added.
Court, a 24-time Grand Slam singles winner, was ordained as a full-time independent Pentecostal minister in 1991.
Wintour then addressed Morrison and the coalition government’s position on religious freedom in Australian schools, a review of which is at the center of a fierce, ongoing debate in Australia.
Conservative politicians have argued that same-sex marriage legislation could impede people’s ability to practice their religions freely, putting forth a controversial legislative proposal to enshrine the right of religious schools to expel LGBT students and teachers.
“Like many of you, I have been alarmed by your prime minister’s record on LGBT rights, which seems backward in all senses,” said Wintour.
“A government should protect its people and not make it unclear whether they will be accepted. We are struggling with these issues in the United States as well. Fortunately, though, opportunities for leadership and change extend beyond the leaders of the moment.”
The rest of Wintour’s Australian visit is expected to be less controversial.
While in Melbourne, she is due to meet 11 emerging Australian designers and also donate two pieces from her Chanel collection — the gown she wore to the 2008 Met Gala and a suit she has owned since the 1990s — to the National Gallery of Victoria, according to The Melbourne Age newspaper.