The person we are looking at today lived in
country New South Wales and her family could not afford to buy her a tennis raquet. At
the age of nine her first tennis raquet was a fence paling. A family friend gave her an
old raquet without any grip. But she went on to win not six, but sixty-two womens tennis
grand slam titles in the 1960s and 1970s. Her name is Margaret Court. She is the greatest
woman tennis player of all time. Margaret Court was born in 1942. She was raised
as a Roman Catholic Christian in Albury, in the state of New South Wales. Even at a young
age she was sporty and played cricket and football with the boys living in her street.
She was the leader of the group. She had the good fortune to live opposite 24 grass tennis
courts, and soon was playing there. She had a good coach and she showed potential. When
she was 13 a visiting tennis pro told her she could become the first Australian woman
to win Wimbledon, and Margaret set that as a goal for herself. Her coach told her at
age 15 that she needed to go to Sydney or Melbourne to get the best training and competition.
She went to Melbourne and Frank Sedgman guided her development. He put her onto gym and weights
training four mornings every week. In 1960, at age 17, she won the Australian
open for the first of many times. She was not even seeded in that first Australian open
competition. After winning the US open and French open in 1962, she won Wimbledon, her
goal, in 1963, and later in 1965. She retired temporarily in 1966 and moved to Perth, where
she married Barry Court. Her father-in-law, Sir Charles Court, and brother-in-law, Richard
Court, later became Liberal premiers of Western Australia. She returned to tennis in 1968 and won all
four Grand Slam singles titles in 1970. The next year, she lost the Wimbledon singles
final to Evonne Goolagong Cawley while pregnant with her first child, Daniel, who was born
in March 1972. It was in the early 1970s that she had a spiritual
awakening experience. Her tennis colleagues used to ask her what had changed in her life.
She replied that she had given her heart to Jesus. She retired permanently in 1977 when
she learned that she was expecting the last of her four children. She had achieved all
her goals. The years 1979 to 1983 were not easy for the
Courts. Margaret had heart trouble, depression and insomnia. She was told she just had to
live with the heart problem. Husband Barry had stomach ulcers. Husband Barry was healed
from his ulcers by God through a Christian with a healing ministry. Margaret started
studying for Christian ministry and she too experienced physical healing for her heart
problem. In 1991 she was ordained and started ministry. In 1996 she started the Victory
Life Centre in Perth. Her ministry has thrived with countless people
being helped. Her church currently disributes tons of food each month to the needy. She
started an international Bible training centre, with students coming from overseas countries.
She supports mission endeavour in 13 other countries. Her church has drop-in centres
to support families. It has marriage support programs, children programs, help for victims
of abuse, help for people with addictions, and help for orphanages overseas. As the senior
pastor, she says she loves what she is doing and leads a great team. Margaret Court says
“if you bless your community, God will bless you.” She also says that the secret of her
success is to love people and help them to overcome their problems. Margaret still plays a little tennis each
week. She and her husband have been married 45 years. She helped coach the Sri Lankan
Davis Cup team in tennis in 2005. Margaret has won numerous awards, including Officer of
the Order of Australia in 2007, and ABC Sportsman of the Year award in 1963 and 1970. She was
inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1979 and the Australian Tennis
Hall of Fame in 1993. One of the arenas in the Melbourne Tennis Centre was named in her
honour. We salute Margaret Court, a Christian woman who has made a positive difference both
on and off the tennis court.

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Dennis Veasley

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