Busselton's love all message to Margaret Court

Busselton residents have rallied together to spread their love all message before controversial figure Margaret Court opens the Busselton Tennis Centre.
Busselton residents have rallied together to spread their love all message before controversial figure Margaret Court opens the Busselton Tennis Centre.

A group of Busselton residents are rallying to take their love all message to the official opening of the Busselton Tennis Centre on Saturday.

The centre will be opened by famed tennis player Margaret Court who has caused controversy in Australia with her outspoken homophobic views of the LGBQTI community and same-sex marriage.

Ms Court is a former world number one tennis play and has more major titles than any other tennis player in history.

Love All Busselton is encouraging people to attend the opening of the tennis centre wearing rainbow colours, a badge or ribbon to show members of the community who are upset by the decision.

Busselton resident Clare Paine said she was initially surprised the tennis club would invite Margaret Court to open the new facility.

"I think a lot of people in the community are really hurt and upset," she said.

"I put up a post on Facebook when I first found out she was coming and instantly got a bunch of comments from people saying get over it and suck it up.

"Then I got a number of messages from a lot of people in the community saying this was really upsetting and hurtful.

"I received another message from someone who had recently moved to Busselton and they were worried about what the community response would be.

"They were not even sure whether they should feel safe out in their community, it made them doubt whether this was the sort of community where you could walk down the street holding your partner's hand."

Ms Paine said she would prefer if Ms Court did not come to open the tennis centre in Busselton.

"I do not think you can separate someone's sporting achievements from their public comments when they have spent their entire career making those comments," she said.

"This was not just a statement she made during the plebiscite this is decades of comments she has made in public."

Former world number one and Australian tennis champion Margaret Court was invited to officially open the Busselton Tennis Centre on Saturday despite her divisive views of the LGBTQI community.

Former world number one and Australian tennis champion Margaret Court was invited to officially open the Busselton Tennis Centre on Saturday despite her divisive views of the LGBTQI community.

Busselton Tennis Club president Barry House said their mission was to be recognised as a friendly inclusive club and a great place to play tennis.

Mr House said the opening day was purely about tennis and recognising the superb new facility.

"Margaret Court was invited to cut the ribbon as an Australian and international tennis legend," he said.

"She is the most credentialed tennis player in history being the winner of 62 Grand Slam titles, including 24 Singles Grand Slams.

"There is no intention to offend any group and we regret that this may have been the perception of some. We are a community club and welcome everyone.

"The opening day will be solely about promoting this facility to the community and encouraging participation, particularly from young people, to the sport of tennis as an active and healthy pursuit."

The $4 million new facility was largely funded by the City of Busselton.

Mayor Grant Henley said the city acknowledged the tennis club's decision to invite Ms Court to the event on the basis of her legendary tennis status, but accepted that for some community members that decision may not sit comfortably.

"The City has worked hard to foster an inclusive culture supporting events such as the Mayoral Prayer Breakfast, the Pride Parade and Harmony Day," he said.

"We fund disabled sports, Cliff's Kitchen and Youthcare initiatives as well as a host of activities for youth and seniors.

"We strive to be a welcoming and inclusive community.

"Ms Court's participation in the opening of the new tennis club is based purely on her outstanding contribution to the world tennis scene.

"The City of Busselton Council does not share her views on same sex marriage but does acknowledge her right to have her own view.

"I am hopeful that those people in our community who may be uncomfortable with her involvement at the opening event will respect her sporting achievements and understand that her participation on the day has nothing to do with her personal views."

The opening event start at midday with a free sausage sizzle and a range of tennis-based activities planned for the afternoon.

Formalities start at 3pm for those interested in attending. There will be food and entertainment into the evening.

"This it is a celebration of achievement", Mr Henley said.

"It's a thank you to the many local tradespeople and contractors who have been involved in the project and an acknowledgement of the great working partnership between the City of Busselton and the Busselton Tennis Club.

"Most importantly, however, it is a fun family event that is open to all - regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation."