On her first visit to Australia, tennis super-fan and editor-in-chief of US Vogue, Anna Wintour, didn’t pull any punches when assessing the country’s political scene.
Wintour, the keynote speaker at a business lunch organised by the Australian Open, told an audience that included Liberal MP Julie Bishop: “I have been alarmed by your prime minister’s record on LGBTQ rights, which seems backward in all senses.”
Referring to government proposals (later abandoned) to allow schools to discriminate against LGBTQI students, Wintour said: “That no one can be expelled from school for their orientation should not require clarification. A government should protect its people, not make it unclear whether they will be accepted.”
Wintour – who delivered the speech with a bare face (her trademark sunglasses only worn later when posing for photos with guests) – also directly attacked former Australian tennis champion Margaret Court for her stance on same-sex marriage.
“I find that it is inconsistent with the sport for Margaret Court’s name to be on a stadium that does so much to bring all people together across their differences,” she said.
Wintour called Court, now a religious minister, “a champion on the court” but said that tennis should be a “meeting point of players of all nations, preferences and backgrounds [and] should celebrate somebody who was a champion off the court as well”.
Wintour also said she found it inspiring to see some Australians wearing “ribbons in support of refugees”. Wintour did not address Australia’s widely condemned treatment of asylum seekers who arrive by boat.
Wintour was speaking in Melbourne where she is attending the Australian Open tennis tournament. “I have never felt so welcomed anywhere in my life. It is ‘no problem’, everyone keeps saying, ‘no problem at all’,” she said.
“Coming from New York, where everybody talks of problems all the time, and subsists on problems as they do on coffee and noise … I find this smooth sailing quite disconcerting.”
Wintour was joined on stage by her New York neighbour, Baz Luhrmann, who introduced tribute videos to the Vogue editor from tennis greats, Roger Federer and Serena Williams.
Wintour confessed she missed “many” fashion shows to attend tennis matches and said that a highlight of her life was when her daughter arranged for Federer to play tennis with her and her family, as a surprise.