THE Australian Open has not been short of excitement – and controversy – on and off the court.

From the health implications on the players of the bush fires to the upsets on the court, there has been plenty to talk about over the past fortnight.

And it’s not over yet.

At the start of the week, Margaret Court was presented with a trophy at a ceremony on the Rod Laver Arena to celebrate her tennis achievements.

In itself, this is not controversial in the slightest. Court is the most successful singles player of all-time, winning 24 grand slam titles, a record which Serena Williams has been chasing for a number of years but is yet to surpass.

The ceremony a few days ago marked 50 years since the Australian won the Grand Slam, claiming all four major tennis tournaments in 1970.

However, there has been much backlash towards Court in recent years. Following the conclusion of her tennis career, she became a Christian minister and has expressed a number of views which many find extremely offensive.

About transgender children and LGBTIQ, she said it’s ‘all the work of the devil’, ‘tennis is full of lesbians’ and ‘it’s sad for children to be exposed to homosexuality’. These comments have, unsurprisingly, created quite a backlash.

Court has long been recognised as a legend of tennis on the court, but her off-court views have seriously coloured many people’s opinion of her, particularly in light of the fact that one of the main arenas in Melbourne Park is called the ‘Margaret Court Arena’ in her honour.

Tennis Australia were clearly well-aware of the danger of allowing Court too much space during the presentation to her earlier this week and so the ceremony was short and sweet, with the former player being given the trophy but not the microphone to speak to the crowd, who apart from a smattering of boos and some rainbow flags, gave Court a pretty positive reception.

It seemed, that with the presentation going ahead with minimal controversy, Tennis Australia had got away with it.

But a couple of former players had other thoughts.

On Tuesday, after completing a legends match at the tournament, Martina Navratilova, who has long been an outspoken critic of Court’s views on the gay, lesbian and transgender community, climbed up the steps on the umpire’s chair and unveiled a home-made banner with the words ‘Evonne Goolagong Arena’ on it. As she did this, John McEnroe was by her side.

This was to highlight her long-held view that Margaret Court should not have an arena named after her in light of her views and instead, Goolagong, the four-time Australian Open champion would be a more worthy recipient of the honour.

This was backed up the comments of McEnroe who, the previous day, had called Court’s views “offensive and homophobic” and urged Serena Williams to surpass Court’s achievements to ensure “Margaret Court and her offensive views (are left) in the past where they both belong.”

It was quite an attack by Navratilova and McEnroe on one of their fellow former players and it begs the question about whether or not someone who has been hugely successful on the sporting field, as Court unquestionably was, should be celebrated despite having such discriminatory views.

Navratilova does not disagree with Court being honoured for her tennis achievements, as she was at the start of the week; rather, it is the naming of the stadium that the nine-time Wimbledon champion has a real issue with.

“When buildings are named after you, or airports, or streets, it’s the body of work, it’s not just one part of your life and then ignore the rest,” Navratilova said, making it clear that she is in no doubt that when bestowing certain honours on individuals, you cannot separate a person’s sporting achievements from their views on other areas of life.

And while Tennis Australia have distanced themselves from Court’s personal views, pointing out they are an inclusive tournament, they do not seem to have come close to renaming the arena.

It would be, of course, quite a decision to strip one of the country’s most successful athletes of the honour she was given in 2003 when the arena was named after her. But it would be the right thing to do.

How can Tennis Australia expect players whose Court’s comments are directed at to play on the court named after her and not feel disgusted? If she had made the comments about black people, would they be quite so slow to act?

It is a tricky situation. Court’s tennis achievements should not be rubbed out just because she holds the views she does, no matter how offensive they may be. But equally, Court should not be celebrated as a person, which is what has happened by naming a stadium after her.

After being informed they had breached the tournament’s protocols, Navratilova and McEnroe have since apologised for the way they went about their protest. But they clearly do not regret the sentiment.

For now, the Margaret Court Arena will remain. It remains to be seen for how much longer though. With players of the profile of Navratilova speaking out so vociferously about it, the headlines are not going to go away for Tennis Australia. And so, perhaps the best thing would be for them to do the right thing and rename the arena after someone who may not be quite as successful on the court but who is far less offensive off of it.