At the Victory Life Center, Margaret Court’s church in the Perth suburb of Osborne Park, a crowd was gathering for the second morning service on Sunday.
As Ms. Court, a tennis superstar who holds the record for the most singles titles in the sport, took the pulpit, she set aside her prepared message, saying she had “a word from the Spirit.” She led the audience in speaking in tongues — what she calls a language only God understands — for several minutes.
Ms. Court, who declined to be interviewed for this article, has generated controversy recently with a series of inflammatory comments about gays and same-sex marriage. On Sunday, she told her congregation that she had received more than 1,000 emails from across Australia last week supporting her stance.
She defended her opposition to same-sex marriage, notably in joining the Queensland businessman Stuart Ballantyne in criticizing Qantas over the airline’s support for marriage equality. But her tone was not entirely defiant; she expressed regret over some comments.
In those comments, made to a Christian radio broadcaster, Ms. Court called homosexuality “a lust for the flesh” that would lead young people to “destroy their lives.” Read more via New York Times