Clare Balding: "I would just say to Margaret Court, 'Get a life, seriously'"

The award winning broadcaster discusses a number of issues with Newstalk

BY Raf Diallo 21:00 Wednesday 31 May 2017, 21:00 31 May 2017

Clare Balding. Niall Carson/PA Archive/PA Images

Clare Balding feels the reaction to Margaret Court's recent controversial comments show how far tennis has come in terms of welcoming LGBT people into the sport's environment. 

Australian former tennis player Court, who has won the most individual Grand Slams of any player, controversially claimed that tennis "is full of lesbians".

She had also previously said she would not fly with the airline Qantas "where possible" over their support of same-sex marriage.

Speaking to Off The Ball at the Aviva Stadium, Balding gave her take on the remarks but also the reaction.

"I would say to you this: How many times in your life before today have you worried about what Margaret Court thinks?" she said.

"I think what it illustrates is how incredibly open and welcoming tennis has become for openly gay women and it really is. And it should be held up and so should women's football and so should women's hockey should be held up as examples to a lot of male sports that some other women's sports and other countries to say 'look, this is how you do it, this is how you make sure that the best athletes feel comfortable enough, feel welcome enough, feel strong enough to perform at their best' because I am absolutely convinced when you break down performance - and it doesn't matter whether it's sporting performance or artistic performance or business performance - if you break it down into when are you most effective, you are most effective when you feel most relaxed and comfortable. And you can only do that when you do that if you are able to be yourself.

She added that her message for Margaret Court, would be "get a life, seriously".


Clare Balding in the studio during a dress rehearsal for television show The Last Leg at the International Broadcast Centre during the Paralympics Games 2016 in Rio. Andrew Matthews/PA Archive/PA Images

Balding also talked about how she has reached that sense of relaxation and being comfortable in one's shoes.

"All too often we can slip into trying to be what they think people expect us to be instead of being what we want to be, and I think a really open and collaborative work environment or school environment or home environment helps you to be bold enough to say what you think, to be who you want to be, to wear the clothes you want to wear and to just be different," she said, before touching on her own experience.

"It's a work in progress for all of us. We're always trying to find a way in which you are happy in every situation and I can't pretend I've always necessarily found it now, but I care less about what people think and in caring less about what they think and knowing that I can't control it, that's maybe the key, I am much more relaxed.

"And also I don't walk into a room thinking 'Oh, my God, everybody's looking at me, everybody's judging me'. I walk into a room looking around it, thinking 'Who's here? I wonder who's interesting? I wonder what they do? Who do I talk to? Who do I want to learn from?' And that changes the experience of walking into a room, it really does." 

She talked about her own experience of coming out publicly which occurred when a newspaper published a story on the morning she was about to do a TV paper review with Anne Widdicombe who was turning the pages of that particular publication. 

Balding also discussed how women's sport can be best promoted within the media in terms of the role of quotas.

Clare Balding was at the Aviva stadium today taking part in BT’s ‘The Difference Is You’ event was happening at the Aviva today. It’s part of BT Ireland’s Diversity Week - promoting gender diversity and LGBT equality in work organisations.


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