Australia has voted for Margaret Court over Serena Williams in tennis’ great debate.
In a clear-cut poll result, the Aussie tennis champion and divisive public figure has won the squabble over who is the greatest women’s tennis player of all time.
Williams is undeniably the greatest player of the modern era with 23 grand slam titles to her name, but the elusive 24th crown — which would see her equal Court’s record of 24 majors — has repeatedly slipped through her grasp since returning from the birth of daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian in 2017.
The 39-year-old has now had 10 opportunities to equal Court’s record, set in 1973, and has lost four grand slam finals in the past few years.
It leaves the debate wide open.
However, Australians have now voted overwhelmingly for Court in a poll asking ‘Who is the greatest female tennis player of all time?’.
A poll of more than 55,000 registered news.com.au readers has voted Court as the greatest of all time — ahead of Williams and German legend Steffi Graf.
Serena Williams hasSource:AFP
Graf is a 22-time grand slam champion.
Court’s claim to the throne is clouded by the fact she won 13 of her titles before the start of the Open era in 1968.
But Australia still sees her as the pick of the bunch.
She received 39 per cent of the total vote, ahead of Williams on 33 per cent and Graf on 24 per cent. Four per cent of readers voted for “other”.
Williams broke down in tears at her final press conference at the Australian Open, leading to speculation she may have said goodbye to the Australian Open for good.
Williams gave the Rod Laver Arena an extended farewell before leaving the court.
Court was honoured for her on-court achievements with the Companion of the Order of Australia award as part of the Australia Day honours last month.
Margaret Court watches the Women’s Final between at the 2020 Australian Open.Source:Getty Images
The announcement of her award received a huge backlash with the likes of journalist Kerry O’Brien rejecting his OAM and transgender woman and LGBTIQ advocate Dr Clara Tuck Meng Soo also handing back her OAM as a direct result of Court’s award.
The decision to honour Court was criticised by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who said her vocal opposition to same-sex marriage and support of gay conversion therapy should exclude her from receiving the award.
Court hit back at the criticism, saying the honour was for her greatness as a tennis player and “was a long time coming”.
She was also honoured at the 2020 Australian Open with a special ceremony celebrating the 50-year anniversary of her grand slam win of all four majors in 1970.
It was met with renewed calls for the Margaret Court Arena to be re-named Evonne Goolagong Arena. That debate seems destined to rage for some time to come.
Williams, meanwhile, has just a handful of opportunities left to change Australia’s mind.
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