OPINION

When PR magic conspires on centre court

It was a PR win of massive proportions. It happened at Rod Laver Arena on Monday. And really, as the young folk say, who woulda thunk it?

Who honestly expected Tennis Australia's recognition of Margaret Court's quite frankly remarkable achievements to go without a hitch (relatively speaking)?

Mrs Court's neolithic views have caused angst at this time of year for about as long as we've hoped for another Aussie winner.

The push to erase her from tennis history and rename her court at Melbourne Park understandably reached a crescendo during the same-sex marriage plebiscite of 2017. For a long time, Tennis Australia (TA) adopted a watch-and-wait strategy. But then when TA invited Court to attend the Australian Open as a special guest to mark the 50-year anniversary of her incredible 1970 Grand Slam, it admonished her for her views on gay marriage.

Politely, but firmly so.

Tennis greats John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova weren't quite so gentle. Only hours before the tribute, Martina suggested Mrs Court keep her opinions to herself, while in typical Johnny Mac fashion, he called her Australia's "crazy aunt".

McEnroe argued it was impossible to separate Margaret Court the player, from Margaret Court the homophobe.

As if to underline it, he said: "Look at me. If you recognise the fact that I won seven grand slams, guess what? Then you've got to celebrate the fact that I had the loudest mouth in the history of the tennis tour."

Well, yes and yes. McEnroe was as obnoxious as he was outrageously talented.

Enter Rod Laver. In a masterstroke of PR-ery, TA enlisted the man who can do no wrong.

Rod Laver is everyone's grandad. You suspect even if he splashed on too much Brut 33 for that special family gatherings, no-one would even dare mention it.

It's also his house, so out of sheer respect, who the hell is ever going to misbehave when he's front and centre anyway? The moment passed pretty much without incident - at Melbourne Park, anyway. There was outrage on social media. Had there not have been, well, now that would have been a story.

TA was never going to be able to please everyone. That is a given. But the moment is done and dusted.

So, too, is Mrs Court.

Nick Kyrgios, the man who inspired Rally for Relief, played an intelligent, mature game on Rod Laver Arena against Rafael Nadal.

Yes, he lost but he also grew exponentially. Let's celebrate that.

Janine Graham is an ACM journalist