The
Inspiration
Project

WITH BRENDAN CORR

GUEST Margaret Court

Episode 13

Margaret Court: Episode Summary

On this episode of ‘The Inspiration Project’, Brendan Corr talks to Margaret Court about winning tennis grand slams, starting a church and loving those who persecute you.

Among other things Margaret shares:

  • Escaping fame and the media by moving to Perth.
  • The importance of setting goals.
  • The one thing that always brings tears to her eyes.
  • How a book led to Margaret’s conversion.
  • The joyful experience of knowing Christ.
  • The key to overcoming depression.
  • How to counteract criticism.
  • The greatest thing Margaret has learnt.

Margaret Court: Episode Transcript

Sponsor Announcement
This podcast is sponsored by Australian Christian College, a network of schools committed to student wellbeing, character development and academic improvement.

Introduction
Welcome to The Inspiration Project, where well-known Christians share their stories to inspire young people in their faith and life. Here’s your host, Brendan Corr.

Brendan Corr
Well, hi there everyone. Welcome to another episode of The Inspiration Project Podcast. I’m absolutely delighted to welcome our special guest to this episode. Margaret Court is an exceptionally well known Australian, most known for the success that she’s had on the tennis court. She is without doubt the greatest woman tennis player, arguably the greatest tennis player with the most success of anyone that’s come before or since. Margaret, we’re so glad that you’ve been able to make some time to talk with us today. Can I welcome you to The Inspiration Project podcast?

Margaret Court
It’s wonderful to be with you and just be able to share a little bit of my life story. I love doing it. I had a very full life in sport, in ministry and both worlds. I’ve enjoyed so much what’s been placed on my life.

Brendan Corr
Thank you Margaret. We will have a little chat about some of your life, some of your early stories, how you ended up becoming the success that you did becoming in tennis, and then explore how faith has become an important part of your life. So, I look forward to what the next little while will unfold for us.

Margaret Court
I’ve found that somebody said to me, “You could be the first Australian woman,” and people used to ask me, “What do you want to do from tennis?” I came from a country town, I’d say, “I want to be the first Australian woman ever to win Wimbledon,” not knowing what I was doing. I was speaking that into being, but then I was being activated in that, because my coach saw the potential in me. There was alcohol in our home, so my escape was to the outdoors. I’d go over on the tennis courts every afternoon after school, and this coach and his wife didn’t have any children, so they sowed their life into me in those early years.

Brendan Corr
Margaret, you’re living in a country town?

Margaret Court
I have a good story like that.

Brendan Corr
Yeah, it is a great story. You’re living in this country town and there were 24 grass tennis courts opposite your home?

Margaret Court
Albury is a great tennis centre.

Brendan Corr
Albury, yeah right.

Margaret Court
Albury is in New South Wales, it’s a great tennis centre. Had a lot of good players come out of there. I just used to sneak over there even though it was closed and I’d hit on the wall, and he’d let me do that. So, I have had great people who have sown into my life in those early years because my family didn’t have the money to pay for anything.

Brendan Corr
If it wasn’t tennis, would it have been something else? You just spoke about being a national athlete?

Margaret Court
On the track. I was a very good runner, yeah.

Brendan Corr
Sprinting, middle distance?

Margaret Court
220m back then.

Brendan Corr
So, you were quick!

Margaret Court
Yeah. I just love to run. I go for a walk even now and I feel like jogging. I’ve always loved that side of it. I love the outdoors and sport. I always kicked the football further than the boys and played cricket and beat the boys.

Brendan Corr
In that area, that wouldn’t have gone down pretty well I wouldn’t imagine. Did it cost you any friendships, make you popular?

Margaret Court
I’ve played boys in the street and I was the only girl, so I was the leader of the gang.

Brendan Corr
You had to hold your own a bit more.

Margaret Court
Yeah. I think if I look back and perhaps if I lived in today’s society, you’d think mentally, you’d think with all what comes at the young people today, you’d wonder, well… Because I used to say, “Oh, I wish that I was a boy mum.” Mentally today, there was never any thought of what young people face today. That wasn’t even there. I had two brothers and a sister, and I had people and I’d say, “Well, I know I’m a girl and they’re boys.” Even though I said that, I didn’t think that way. I thought, “No, I like beating the boys.”

Brendan Corr
It worked good on you.

Margaret Court
We didn’t have that battle there. I knew I was a girl, so I was a girl.

Brendan Corr
Yeah, understand. You mentioned that tennis was an opportunity for you to think a bit more broadly than just town. Was there something that you carried a sense of purpose about your life, the sense of I have talent, there’s a responsibility for it to be developed?

Margaret Court
I think my coach saw it. My coach saw it in me. At the age of 15, I had to leave. Albury back then was only about 15,000 people. He said, “You’re either going to have to go to Sydney or Melbourne.” I was winning country tournaments and schoolgirl tournaments, and he went to Sydney and said to the coach there, “Would you take her on?” He said, “No, she’s too skinny, too scrawny. She’ll never make it.” So, he took me to Melbourne and actually one of our old time greats Frank Sedgman, he came with a coach to have a look and he said, “She has something but we’ll have to build her up in the gym.” Back then, women didn’t pump weights or do anything like that. So, I was only 15. So, I used to go into his gym very early in the morning, five o’clock in the morning before the guys started to come in, and I started to lift weights and do circuit training and track and train in the daytime. I worked in an office because at school, the reverend mother of the convent back then, I think she saw I had something and she said to me, “Margaret,” she said, “I think you need to do a business course.” So, I learned shorthand typing. I had that to go down, even at the age of 15 to be a secretary. So, I’d do that work during the day and then they’d let me off for a couple hours to go and train. So, they were shaping me for the future. You couldn’t really see it then, but I trained that hard. I wanted to be the first Australian woman to win Wimbledon. I think people saw that potential there. The weights developed me and strengthened me. As somebody said, “She came like a thoroughbred, she developed.” I remember in the gym, I used to stand there and I’d see, there’d be Mr. Victoria in there, sometimes we’d lap over and change overlooking in the mirror, and I’d put my muscles up and they looked like a chicken’s instead. I was so tiny. You remember all those things because they were part of your whole life in training.

Brendan Corr
Indeed. So, it wasn’t just the natural talent. That natural talent had to be directed and harnessed, and…

Margaret Court
Yeah, that’s right.

Brendan Corr
… shaped and supported by hard physical training.

Margaret Court
Hard physical training. I think I hardly ever had any injuries. I was 15 years, and probably 10 of those years at number one in the world. I hardly ever had any injuries, where I saw a lot of the players have knee injuries or shoulder injuries. I never had anything like that. I think it was all my weight training. I’ve been very blessed through life because physically still at my age, I haven’t had any knee problems or hip problems or anything like that. I believe it was all what I did in my early years for my body.

Brendan Corr
Yeah, that’s good. Tennis, you had… This goal meant something to you very early, this seed of an idea that got sewn into you by somebody, first woman Australian to win Wimbledon. Was that enough to carry you through or did you need to set other goals leading up towards that one? Was the the big prize sufficient?

Margaret Court
Do you know, I’ve always learned I think as a little girl that I had that vision there. I had that goal out in front of me. All through life, even now, you have to have vision, you have to have goals. When you put it back in my early years, I didn’t know anything about Wimbledon. We had no TV. I didn’t even know who was the number one tennis woman player in the world. But, there was something I think as a little girl, my mum used to say to you, because I’d win a few, whether it was under 10 or under 12 tournaments, she’d say it’s a gift from God. So people would say to me as I got old, “Why are you so good?” I’d say, “It’s a gift from God.” I knew that. It was interesting. I always used it to the best of my ability, even though you had things and struggles in life. I remember when I first went down to Melbourne, I didn’t know how to eat properly. I stayed with a family and said, “Would you teach me how to put the knife and fork properly?” Because I see them doing it different to me. I didn’t know how to speak properly. I’d say to Frank Sedgman, I was fortunate to live with them for a couple of years, and I’d say to her, “Would you…” because I heard myself at the ABC do a interview and I thought, “Oh, I don’t speak very well.” So, I’d ask her, “Would you help me? Pick me up when I say something wrong and teach me.” So, I think I always was quite teachable. I wanted to learn.

Brendan Corr
So, the attitude of training. Yeah, that’s right. This habit of growth, improvement was something that you carried in other parts of life.

Margaret Court
Yeah. On my part, I knew when there was something wrong when I was playing. I’d wanted to be better. I always wanted to improve. Even when I was number one in the world, people would say, “Oh, you’re so good, you’ve done this or you’ve done that.” I would say, “No, I still improve in such and such.” I think that was probably one of my strengths in many ways if I look back today, not knowing it at the time. But, I always knew there was room for improvement. I think if I always thought, “Yeah, look at me, I’m great. I don’t think…” I don’t think I would have ever done what I did.

Brendan Corr
You mentioned that you spent 10 years at the top, so, hard work to achieve that goal and become the success. Then, was it just as much hard work? Was it different work to stay there, to stave off the contenders?

Margaret Court
It’s easy to get there.

Brendan Corr
Easy to get there…

Margaret Court
It was easy to get to the top. It was staying there that was the most difficult. In that time, because in the early years was amateur, there was no money, it was under the counter thing, and we’d be away for 10 months of the year. I used to get homesick, and that’s why I came to retire in Perth when I was 25, won everything. I think I’d won two Wimbledon’s and probably four or five Australians and a couple of US and the French and a set of-

Brendan Corr
A couple of grand slams actually I think Margaret…

Margaret Court
Well, I hadn’t won the grand slam. I’d won a lot of the grand slams in those early years, but I hadn’t won the grand slam all in all - the four.

Brendan Corr
…in the calendar year.

Margaret Court
I retired to Perth, I picked up a squash racket and played squash. I didn’t play tennis at all. I said, “I’ve finished with tennis.” Perth was good. It’s a hideaway. Nobody knew me over here. The press knew me so well in the eastern states. So, I had a ball and opened a fashion boutique with a friend over here. That was when I met my husband in those two years of retirement here. When I just said to him after we’re married, “How about we go overseas? You see the life I lived, then we’ll go farming.” So, that was the idea, but went back into tennis and got back to number two in the world in that first year, after not picking up a racket for two years, but played squash. I got to number two in the state here in squash. So, we enjoyed that trip. Then open tennis came in and that was a whole new game, a whole different…

Brendan Corr
You could notice the difference in the way the game was played? Was it more intense?

Margaret Court
Well, once open tennis came in, the money came in. It’s easier to travel. There was a lot more promotion. Things just changed a bit. So, then somebody said to me, all the way through my career, I always had to have goals. I wanted to be the first Australian woman to win Wimbledon. Then, I wanted to win the grand slam, all four, Australian, the French, Wimbledon, US, all in the one year. That’s very hard to do. I went close two other times, and I hadn’t done it. When you look at Serena Williams today, she still hasn’t done it, Federer hasn’t done it. It’s not easy to do it in the one year. So somebody said to me, “Why don’t you go for the grand slam?” It was when we went back in, people said, “What do you want to do?” I said, “I’d like to win the grand slam.” So, that was 1970. We stayed on in open tennis then for about probably around eight years, nine years, and probably I won more championships after I was married than I did before. Then, after I had my first child, they said, “She’ll finish now.” I said, “No, I haven’t quite finished yet. I wanted to be the first mum to be number one in the world.” So, that all happened after our first child. So, I always had those goals. Probably if I looked, I should have said I’d like to win a second grand slam. But, that goal wasn’t there. I fulfilled, when I hung my rackets up, I knew I fulfilled everything. I didn’t…

Brendan Corr
You were happy to walk away.

Margaret Court
… miss it at all.

Brendan Corr
It was the right time for you.

Margaret Court
Yeah, it was the right time for me to retire. But, I did come back after a second child thinking I’d do as well because, after that first child, I won 23 out of 24 tournaments that second year back after that. Then I thought, “Well, I’ll have another one and come back,” but my heart wasn’t there anymore and I didn’t have any goals. That’s why it’s important to have goals.

Brendan Corr
I can understand you. You mentioned earlier in our conversation that, your capacity to state this is what I’m aiming for, to articulate the end point, generated a motivation in you that could carry you through.

Margaret Court
It motivates you to go that harder, to work a little bit harder. It motivates you to train more. I mean, Percy Cerutty probably was one of the best track coaches. He coached Herb Elliot, who was a great runner back in those times. There was a whole group of tennis players in Melbourne and we used to go run down, run at Portsea, down with him and run on the sand hills. We would go up into the Dandenong. By the end of the day, we could hardly walk. But, you knew there was something in you that you just wanted to push that little bit more, or do that little bit extra. Yeah, you could get away with not doing it that you just knew if you wanted to be the best… I think Frank Sedgman used to say, “If you want to be the best in the world, you’re going to have to be fitter than everybody.” My coach in Melbourne said to me, because no Australian had ever won the French championship, it’s on clay. We didn’t have clay. We only had onattukara in Victoria. But, we’d never ever played on clay. My coach would say to me, “Okay, if you can get that ball over a hundred times in a row,” he said, “You’ll beat all those European girls because they didn’t volley.” I was a very good volleyer. The game is different today. I love to volley. I’d serve volley, and that was part of my skill. He said, “If you can hit the ball over a hundred times,” well I’d get to 92, and if I missed it, he’d say “Let’s start again.” That’s what was put into me, but I loved that. I loved the training of it all, probably even more than the competition side of it. I loved to get out, and I loved to run and to jump and do circuit training. That was easy for me.

Brendan Corr
This was all for your self fulfilment. It wasn’t for the crowds or for the accolades or for the publicity?

Margaret Court
It wasn’t for self fulfilment. I said I wanted to be the first Australian woman ever to win Wimbledon. I can’t stop crying, because I played for my nation. I still love my nation.

Brendan Corr
Amen.

Margaret Court
Pray for my nation.

Brendan Corr
Yes.

Margaret Court
Sorry.

Brendan Corr
That’s okay. It’s a beautiful thing to see your heart.

Margaret Court
Well, I know the Holy Spirit does that every time I mention Australia. I pray for my nation, that it becomes a Christian nation. But, I used to see the flag going up and that’d bring tears to my eyes and goosebumps. I prayed. I played for the people of this nation.

Brendan Corr
I think the nation is very proud of the way you represented our nation. You’re a much treasured personality in our history. Margaret, can I ask you, you mentioned earlier that you would tell people why was it that you were so good. That you would answer, “This is a gift from God.” You obviously had an awareness of God early in your life, going to a Catholic school. What was the change of experience from that more distant, more formal notion of God to a very deeply personal relationship with God?

Margaret Court
Well, I think when I was a little girl and my mum, we’d go to church and to mass every Sunday, and we’d have to go and didn’t fully understand it all, because it was in Latin and French. But, I always knew about Jesus, and particularly Easter and Christmas. I used to pray. Then, being in a Catholic school, that was there and I knew the 10 Commandments. There was some wonderful morals and values placed into my life. I never forgot that. As reverend mother, she could see the athletic side of me, and she was a remarkable lady, a beautiful lady, she lived late into her 90s. She would say to me that… She was the one that said to me at the age of 14, “I think you need to do a business course, because somehow I feel you’re going to go on in sport and that’s where your heart is. I believe you’ll do well, and you need to do this.” So, there were such people throughout my life that saw something in me or guided me, and ride through that time. All through there, even when I was travelling and then I started to become famous, and even in my sport, whatever nation I went to, I would go to church. The press would say to me, “Why are you so good?” I’d say, “It’s a gift from God.” I would ask Him sometimes, “Please help me.” I’d say, “God, I can’t do this. I’m not going to last. I know that this is a gift from you, please help me.” Sometimes there would be just like this strength would come. I’d think, “Where would it come from?” I always knew there was something far greater than me. I talked to Him, just I didn’t know what I know that today from the Bible. I didn’t even own a Bible. I knew this, there was something bigger than me, stronger than me. I knew He made the trees. I knew the beauty. I’d be walking across the road in France or somewhere and I’d see somebody in a wheelchair and I’d say, “Thank you God, thank you for my health.”

Brendan Corr
Amen.

Margaret Court
So, in this childlike, very simple way, that was built in me. I think it was one year I was playing in the French championship and I went to church there, and they were speaking in Latin and French. I said, “God, I don’t understand a word they’re saying. I know you’re there. Why don’t you reveal yourself to me?” That year, I went on to America and the family we stayed with there, and we got to know over the year, she was going off to all these meetings and gave me these little books. I said to my husband, this was back in the early, probably back in the early 80s I think it was, no, the early 70s. I said, “I think she’d become a religious nut,” and I’d put these books in the rubbish bin. But, I kept one about accepting Jesus Christ as Lord of my life. It was in that time when I came home, that was in the Catholic renewal actually, a friend of mine said, “I’ve just given my heart to Christ.” I said, “Funny, I read a little book on that, but it didn’t mean much. I’d like to come with you.” So, that was in 1971. I went along to meetings with them and I gave my heart to Christ. I went forward in a meeting and said the prayer of salvation, and then went back into tennis after that for about another four years. But, I had such an experience, I had a real encounter when I gave my heart to Christ. He came to live on the inside of me and I knew that went back into the tennis world different. Even the press people said, “What is it? Something’s happened to you.” I said, “I went along to a meeting,” and I said, “I said the prayer of salvation, when you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead and you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, thou shall be saved.” I said that, and that was Romans 9 and 10. When I went back on the circuit, I said to somebody, “Please write that prayer out for me.” I got thousands of people around the world saved through that prayer, and that’s all I really knew. I’d say, “I want you to be in heaven with me. Wouldn’t that be good because we know one another? We might not see one another after I finish my tennis.” They said, “Yeah, we’d like that.” It was so simple. So, He’s always been there, but now so much more from your Bible and the New Testament and the Epistles, who you become in Christ. You know what? I’d love to have known what I know today, particularly in the area of the mind, the mind’s a battlefield, particularly when I was playing tennis. Because, you’d lack confidence at times or insecurities in yourself. I feel I would have won six Wimbledon, not three, because I beat myself. People used to say to me, “You should never lose a match, but you’re your own worst enemy.” In the scriptures it says, “As a man thinketh, so is he. Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and you eat the fruit of it.” If I had known some of these biblical scriptures on mind particularly, you wouldn’t have the battles you have. You’d think on the good things, the lovely things, pure things. You’d learn to stabilise that mind even more.

Brendan Corr
Yeah, it would have been marvellous to see the career that might have been, if you’d had it from the start. Margaret, being somebody famous and having such life transforming experiences as you’ve described for us, was it harder to live under the inspection of the media and the public, and other people?

Margaret Court
Your life is never your own, particularly with the media. Media back then probably is not as bad as they are today, there wasn’t so much in your face. The media knew the game. They would be the same people travelling with you 10-12 years. You’d get to know them. You could trust them more back then. Today, I mean, they change just every other, maybe a year or six months. You never see the same face very often twice, and not so much in your front, facing, they knew the sport. They knew your history. They knew your life. They knew you were genuine. So, there was a respect there between you. You don’t see that today. But, you knew you were representing your nation, I was taught that as a little girl. My coach, I remember throwing my racket into the back fence, I didn’t think he was looking when I was little. He said to me, “You ever do that again, I will not coach you.” So, that was hit right on the head right at that time. I was always taught, you’re a role model for the next generation. You’re a role model, you represent your nation. People are watching you. The press is watching you and young people watch what you do. So, I was always taught, we were taught to be role models for the next generation and for our nation.

Brendan Corr
Becoming a Christian, did that change that notion? Did it raise the stakes for you to say, “No, I’m not just representing my nation, I’m representing my faith.”

Margaret Court
When I was number one in the world, I thought I always had that to a certain extent. But, becoming a Christian and I was representing Jesus Christ and I wanted everybody to know Jesus, the whole world to know what I had. Because, when I gave my heart to Christ, I had this unbelievable joy. That’s why the press would say, “Why are you smiling? You never used to smile like that. You were always so serious.” I’d say, “I don’t really know, but I know I gave my heart to Christ and He’s come to live on the inside of me.” I said, “I don’t know. It’s just something that he now lives within me. I have this joy.” In many ways, indeed I was representing Him. But, I always felt before, that part of that was there, but I never knew the reality of it.

Brendan Corr
I understand. You’ve carried your faith into your tennis, and it sustained you and gave you an opportunity to share the good news with others. At the end of tennis, your activities took another turn. You felt a call to ministry. Can you tell us a bit about how that part of your life developed?

Margaret Court
Well, in 1982 and ‘83, after I hadn’t been very well having the children and my husband was away and I went through a time of sickness and I went into Bible school, and I was healed in Bible school, totally healed. I just had the family and started to help people and work within our church back then. I found with the children, I just worked within the church in our church and did things not knowing one day that perhaps I was going to pastor. I didn’t know any of that, but I loved helping people. I saw people, and even when I was playing tennis, I did too. I always saw a weakness back then in somebody’s game, I would help them.

Brendan Corr
You’d act as a quasi coach for your competitors. Is that right?

Margaret Court
Yeah. Well, I did if you saw that back then. But, then when I came over into the gospel and Christianity and finished Bible school, I saw what the Word of God did in my life. I’d find I just look at people and see whether they were depressed or they had a need, and I started helping people. I worked in the nursery, then I worked in the area of teaching on prayer. I’ve always loved prayer. I’ve been an intercessor ever since I became born again. I found within our church, we had a very big prayer ministry. We had about 300 in that. So, I led that. I was in counselling and hospital visitation, home visitation, all these things, and bringing up a family of a son and three daughters. Now, they’re all married and we have nine grandchildren. I find all those things were part of training for my life that God had, not knowing in 1991 that I was going to be ordained as a minister. Then, the Lord laid on my heart to have a ministry out into community centres. So, I did that for about five years, helping people, seeing the needs out in the city or getting people saved, praying for the sick, just encouraging and teaching people what I learned, particularly in the area of the mind, overcoming depression, dealing with fear, just the normal things of life. So, the Lord spoke to me, it would have been back in about 1995, he said, “I want you to pastor a church.” Well, I didn’t know any women that did that. Then, somebody told me that there was a lady in Singapore that had a very large church. Then, I read something on Brother Hagen on women in ministry, and I started to see, “Well God, you’ve called me.” I said to my husband, my husband was a great encouragement to me in my tennis days, we travelled together. I said to him, “I feel God’s calling me to be a pastor.” He just said, “Well, if you are called to do that, you’d better do it.” So, there back in that time, the Holy Spirit showed me two men who I went through Bible school with, who had worked in country areas, I got their faces and I phoned them and I said, “Look, don’t give me an answer right away.” I said, “I want you to pray about it for me in a couple of weeks. God’s calling me to start a church and I’d like you to come in alongside me.” They’d both been out in ministries for 10 years. They both come back and said, “Yeah, we believe it’s God.” So, that’s how we started Victory Life Church here in Perth, and it’s nearly 25 years ago now. Out of that, we’ve now put out over 50 tonnes of food a week into the community. What is happening in the community at the moment, you can imagine how large that’s got. We have an international Bible training centre, in 20 nations of the world. It’s just grown and grown. I’ve seen what God’s done in it, there’s a wonderful grace upon it. It’s not about me. It’s about people’s lives changing, people being set free. We have churches all around the world now, so it’s been a great experience, and walking the walk, I think. No different in many ways to the tennis circuit. You had your battles. We have our battles in life, whatever you’re in, whether you’re heading up a school or you’re heading up a church or you’re the prime minister, there’s always battles. But, you learn how to walk through them. That’s what’s so wonderful I think about Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Brendan Corr
Indeed.

Margaret Court
They’re on the inside of you, they will bring you through the toughest times. We’ve got the greatest coach on the inside of us, and we seek Him in prayer. We put Him first. I always learned a wonderful thing in Bible school, it’s always God first, husband, wife, children, work, ministry. You put your priorities right and you’ll always find that He comes through.

Brendan Corr
You mentioned some of the challenges that you are currently meeting in ministry, the needs are out there. You mentioned some of the things in your own life, where it was hard and tough times. The notion that Christianity doesn’t exempt us from difficulty or challenge or sickness, but is an answer or an antidote to those things, do you have some reflections on that?

Margaret Court
I think we’ll go through things, that particularly even when you have a family and your children, and the worry or the care or the stresses or a business. When I went into Bible school, we looked like we were losing all our finances. My husband was in a company, and you had these children and I was sick, had been sick. We looked like we were losing our finances. I wasn’t well, you’ve been coping. But, it’s amazing what’s in the Bible. It’s our TV guide to life. It’s our roadmap to success. I always look back and I think for me, even that time and even in sport, the biggest battle was the area of the mind. Whether you’re a young person, it doesn’t matter how little, or how big, what we’re through, it’s in the mind where the battlefield is. It’s a gateway down into your heart. You can think on things long enough and get down into there, the next thing you’ll be speaking it and you’ll be doing it. That’s why we learn to train up in this area, to think on the good things, lovely things and pure things. I think if anything I’ve learned, you go through things. Whether it’s a sickness, whether it’s in the family, whether it’s marriage. My husband and I have been married 53 years now.

Brendan Corr
Congratulations.

Margaret Court
So, coming up 54 but I’ve had to work the Word of God, and it doesn’t matter. Then you have children or they go off somewhere and they’re getting into wrong things, you learn how to pray but to take the Word of God and trust God. You learn if you have that word put into them when they’re young and know God when they’re young and put the scriptures in there, because I haven’t got a Spirit of fear but of power and love and sound mind. The Lord is the light in my salvation. If you meditate those things, you’ll walk in life without fear.

Brendan Corr
Indeed.

Margaret Court
But, you start to take the Word of God, it’s Spirit. When we give our heart to Christ, we are a spirit being. We live in a body and we have a soul, which is the area of the mind. We’re tri-being. Then, there’s God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, tri-being. Well, He’s made us in the image of Him. We come, when we give our heart to Christ, we come into this wonderful covenant with Him. When we get married, we come into a covenant. We become one flesh. When we come into Christ, we become one in Spirit. That’s why the Bible is such a spiritual book. You and I’ll pass away, but it’s Word won’t. So, you learn the words.

Brendan Corr
Yeah, the power.

Margaret Court
… And how powerful what you speak. As that little girl wanting to be the first Australian woman to win Wimbledon, you learnt the power in those words. No different to when you get to 60 or 30 or 40 or 70, your life and death are in the power of the tongue. So, you learn those thoughts. Even when I went through depression, I thought, “God, life’s not worth living.” I learned through the Scriptures that life was worth living.

Brendan Corr
Amen.

Margaret Court
We’re valuable, that we’re precious, that we’re made in the image of Him, I started to speak that, and how much God loved me. I didn’t know. Nobody ever taught me. I thought God was out to get me. I started to hear how much He loved me and gave His life for me. I started to say, “God, you love me so much. You gave your life for me. If I was the only person in the world, you gave your life for me.” Do you know, you start to know His love. Faith comes by hearing. It’s who you get around. You get around the wrong group of people and they’re speaking negatively and they’re saying things over you all the time, or you may come from a home like I came. There was alcohol in our home. My escape was out to the tennis courts. My mum didn’t drink, but my dad did, and there were always these arguments and fights and words, and that was my escape. So, I looked for it out there. I wanted to become good at something. But, you learn that through the Scriptures, that God’s always given us the roadmap to success, even if we’re little, even if we’re old, to be able to learn about the words of our mouth, about our mind. He said, “Be not conformed, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Brendan Corr
That’s great, that’s great. Margaret, you’ve been talking about the power of God’s word, and the power that is in our capacity to claim and profess that Word. The power of criticism, it would be fair to say that in the last few years, you’ve been the target of some pretty hefty criticism. What have you found to be the counteracting power of some of that language, some of those words that have been used to describe you or about you?

Margaret Court
Well, I think it was interesting, when I went back in my tennis days and I gave my heart to Christ, and I knew even back then there would be criticism because I was very open with people. They’d say, “What is that?” I’d say, “I’ve become a born again Christian. I’ve given my heart to Christ. I had a wonderful encounter with Him.” I mean, that’s the way I speak. I remember even back in those times, I was in prayer one day and the Holy Spirit said to me, “When you speak to the press only say what I say. If you’re going to talk about the Bible, say what the Bible says.” I always have learned to say what God says. It’s not what I say particularly about marriage or family or different morals and values, as well as I can say it in love, I love the people, but a wrong doesn’t make a right. I feel our young people of today are being very robbed, because I did learn when I was little what was right and what was wrong. You don’t step over some boundaries or you’re going to get into trouble. I had learned those things through the 10 Commandments through the ‘Our Father’. They were planted into me. I feel with the press, because we’d had marriage for 2000 years, why would you change it? Because God says in Genesis, marriage is between a man and a woman, and then Jesus says exactly the same in the Gospels. Then, Paul says it in the Epistles and he said, “This is a mystery,” and that’s why that is a mystery, because we become one spirit when we come into Christ, and then when in marriage, we become one flesh. We’re interwoven one with another. That’s God’s family, it’s all interwoven. We’re in Him and He’s in us. With the press, I choose to say what God says. So, when I say what God says, it takes it off me, puts it on God.

Brendan Corr
I understand.

Margaret Court
So, I know in my heart that my heart is pure. I’ve said it out of love, and not out of bitterness and hatred and resentment, trying to help people, trying to protect young people. You don’t need to go that way, because it’s just a thought that will create it. God made you male or female and He loves you. But it’s thoughts. Again, if you start thinking, “Well, if I as a little girl, when I was such a tomboy, and I loved my shorts and being a tomboy, I thought I got brothers, they’re boys, I’m a girl.” If I had what comes to the young people today and said, “Well, maybe you’re a boy or maybe you’re a girl. But, God says, I made you a girl.” This thought around starts to sink in when somebody says I think you’re a boy, or you’re a girl and you’ve got to dress that way, or you’re doing, you start to think like that. The press knows the power of words, television knows the power of words. Thoughts will be planted in people’s minds and their hearts. They start to think like that. It affects your emotions. It affects feelings, until you actually believe something that you’re not. That’s how powerful it is.

Brendan Corr
Yes. As you’ve been describing through the story of your life, the power of the Word of God that can penetrate and give strength and a foundation for who you are becoming, who He wants you to become.

Margaret Court
That’s right, because from the time you’re born and what is spoken over your life or what you’re brought up into, but you didn’t have to stay that way. You can change it. It doesn’t matter what you’ve been through in life. Horrific things happen in people’s lives, but you don’t have to stay that way. When you know Jesus Christ, and you know the power of His words and the love of His words, and you take your refuge in Him and you start to seek Him, you start to know about the power of words, you start to know about the mind, it wouldn’t matter what’s happened in your life. It’s overcoming.

Brendan Corr
Amen.

Margaret Court
It’s temporal, it’s subject to change. You’d start to learn, greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. You start to learn life is in the tongue, death is in there. So, I can bring myself out of that place of depression, out of that place where I’ve been hurt, or bitterness. I think one of the greatest things I’ve ever learned is to forgive. Unforgiveness holds us in a place of bondage.

Brendan Corr
Amen.

Margaret Court
I think it’s in Mark 11:25 it says, “If we have unforgiveness in our heart, we receive nothing.” We learn to forgive and forget, because that’s what Jesus did for us. He looks at our past. It doesn’t matter where we’ve been, what we’ve done. When we come to Him and say, “Lord, forgive me, come into my life,” our past is completely wiped out. Even with one another, is forgiving one another, “Lord I forgive.” You pray for that person, you said, “But I can’t forgive them. It’s been so horrible. It hurt.” You just pray for them and you find God takes it, and you think, “Oh, did they ever really hurt me?” I look at the press, I look at the LGBT, I mean, I have nothing against them. I love them because I pray for them, and I pray they come to know… And that’s what you want because, you know your heart is right with Him. I think that is the most important thing in life.

Brendan Corr
Amen. Margaret, it has been a delight to talk with you and to hear about how God has carried you into the highest places of influence and success, and also reached down into the centre of your being and given you a strength and a word of comfort and assurance about what He’s doing in you and through you. You are of much value to Australia, because of the successes on the tennis court, but I know that it means more to you to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” That audience of one.

Margaret Court
Thank you. You keep up the wonderful work too. Thank you for the wonderful job over here.

Brendan Corr
You too. God bless you Margaret Court.

Margaret Court
Okay. See you. Bye. God bless.

About Margaret Court

Margaret Court is a retired world No. 1 tennis player. Margaret won 24 Grand Slam singles titles in her career, which is more than any other player in history. She is also the only player to have won all 12 Grand Slam events at least twice and to have won the Grand Slam in both singles and mixed doubles. Margaret is a Member of the Order of the British Empire, an Officer of the Order of Australia and an inductee into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Margaret is the senior pastor of Victory Life Centre, Perth.

Photo of Brendan Corr

About Brendan Corr

Originally a Secondary Science Teacher, Brendan is a graduate of UTS, Deakin and Regent College, Canada. While Deputy Principal at Pacific Hills for 12 years, Brendan also led the NSW Christian Schools Australia registration system. Brendan’s faith is grounded in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a deep knowledge of God’s Word. Married for over 30 years, Brendan and Kim have 4 adult children. On the weekends, Brendan enjoys cycling (but he enjoys coffee with his mates afterwards slightly more).