Real reason Court scored Aus Day honour
Margaret Court reportedly received Australia's highest civilian honour because it was believed she deserved the same recognition as the country's greatest ever male tennis player.
Rod Laver was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia in 2016 and Nine newspapers report the decision to hand the same honour to Court - who has sparked controversy with her views on homosexuality - was made because she deserved to stand on equal footing with the man known as "Rocket".
Members of the Council for the Order of Australia told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald although a backlash to the announcement was expected, Court's achievements in tennis convinced them she merited the same recognition as Laver, and her controversial views shouldn't preclude her from that.
Court holds the all-time record for most grand slam singles titles with 24 while Laver won 11 majors, including all four in a calendar year twice - the only player to achieve such a feat.
The decision to honour Court was criticised by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews last week, 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".
There was plenty of blowback to the call, 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.
However, the tennis legend said she wouldn't reject the honour.
"I wasn't one who looked for it, I didn't know I was getting it, I was very honoured when I was told I was," she told 3AW's Neil Mitchell, speaking after receiving her honour on Australia Day.
"No (I won't give it back), because I loved representing my nation. When I got my AO it was for my community outreach area, where we put out 75 tonnes of food a week.
"This was for my tennis and I think it was a long time coming and I'm very honoured ... We did nothing but play for our nation."
Court also defended her views, saying she has been misrepresented in the media.
"I was used as a high profile person to get some opinions and views across - but I have nothing against homosexual people or transgender people," she said.
"I've always said what the bible says. And I don't hate anybody. I love people. And I love gay people and I love transgender people."
Court has become a divisive figure for her outspoken views on homosexuality, conversion therapy, same-sex marriage and transgender people.
There have been repeated calls for Tennis Australia to distance itself from her, along with a campaign to rename Margaret Court Arena at Melbourne Park.
Court revealed she has not been invited to this year's Australian Open and on the weekend the tennis legend claimed she has been unfairly bullied for her beliefs, calling on her outspoken critics to back down.
Originally published as Real reason Court scored Aus Day honour