The children of Margaret Court have released an open letter hitting back at Tennis Australia, after they made an extraordinary public statement distancing itself from her views.

Yesterday, the sport’s governing body announced that it was inviting Court to be a guest at next year’s Australian Open, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her 1970 Grand Slam victory.

In doing so, they also criticised the former champ for her personal views, saying her stance against marriage equality has “demeaned and hurt many in our community.”

In their own joint letter, the four children of the 77-year-old responded, saying they are “disappointed” with how Tennis Australia has handled the situation.

“How blessed we are to have the greatest Mum, Margaret Court,” they wrote. “Mum is known world-wide for her tennis achievements for 64 grand slams, greater than any man or woman. She heads a Church of thousands and helps many with food handouts daily.”

The letter continued:

“It is hard for her family to understand how her current lifestyle would possibly affect her Tennis Career in any way. It is disappointing to see Tennis Australia in the Open Letter amalgamating her sporting career which she won for her Nation. We hope in this great Nation of ours that generations to come will continue to have freedom of speech to stand for what they believe in.”

Margaret Court herself also responded, saying that she will attend next year’s Australian Open:

“This is an incredible milestone for me, and I can’t quite believe how quickly the time has gone It’s always wonderful to catch up with my fellow legends and I’m grateful to Tennis Australia. Tennis is a wonderful sport and I’m proud to be part of the history of our great game.”

Image: AAP / Fiona Hamilton