Billie Jean King says it’s time to rename Margaret Court Arena

Tennis champion Billie Jean King says it’s time Melbourne’s Margaret Court Arena was renamed.

The tennis champion admits that she was one of the proponents of the push to have part of the Rod Laver Arena named after Court in recognition of her tennis achievements, but says Court’s comments about gender and sexuality have gone too far.

“I was a proponent of hers, trying to get her to the best possible court,? King told reporters in Melbourne earlier today.

“She won 64 grand slams. She won more than everybody else.

“When Rod Laver got given the arena, I said ‘what are you going to do for Margaret?’

“But I think it’s its really important, if you’re going to have your name on anything, that you’re hospitable, inclusive, you’re opening arms to everyone that comes to a public facility.”

King said a series of comments made by Court about the LGBTI community were simply unacceptable. King was the first high profile tennis player to come out, her sexuality became public as part of a palimony suite in 1981.

“I was fine until lately she said so many derogatory things about my community. I’m a gay woman; about the LGBTIQ community,” King said.

“That really went deep in my heart and soul.”

Since leaving professional sport Margaret Court has founded her own church, The Victory Life Centre, which is based in Perth. The religious leader has made numerous disparaging comments about gay people, transgender youth and rainbow families.

Last year Reverend Court complained that lesbians were taking over the game of tennis and ruining it for others. In another interview she said transgender children were “the devil”.

Another gay tennis champion, Martina Navratilova has recently said that she would not play at the Margaret Court Arena if she was still playing professionally.

There were concerns that players at the Australian Open might refuse to play in the venue baring Court’s name. Reverend Court labeled any players who refuse to play in the arena as “petty” and “childish”.

 

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