MARGARET COURT AO MBEAC
Former World No. 1 tennis player Margaret Court has compared her Australia Day honours to winning her first Grand Slam in 1970.
Court gained a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AC) for eminent service to tennis as an internationally acclaimed player and record-holding Grand Slam champion, and as a mentor of young sportspersons.
"I feel it goes alongside when I won the Grand Slam for the first time," she said.
"Twice before I'd won three out of four (tournaments) and to get them all was hard work."
Having been appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2007 for her community work, Albury-born Court said the AC was the first major recognition of her international tennis career.
The first Australian female tennis player to win Wimbledon in 1963, Court secured 192 singles titles.
She won 24 Grand Slam singles titles, 19 Grand Slam doubles titles and 21 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles; more Grand Slam titles than any other tennis player in history.
"I never lost a match playing for my nation," Court said.
"I'm very honoured the award has come at this time of my life."
Now a Christian minister based in Western Australia, Court said she was disappointed news of her award was leaked last week.
She said she was resigned to the fact her conservative views didn't align with some - including Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
"I had so much of this a few years ago, it's water off a duck's back now," she said.
"We have never turned anybody away; I don't hold anything against anybody.
"I do pray for him (Daniel Andrews) but it's his right to freedom of speech."
Court was named a Legend in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1998 and an inductee into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame in 1993 and International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1979.