Billie Jean King backs renaming Margaret Court Arena after anti-gay comments


Billie Jean King has called for the Margaret Court Arena to be renamed because of the Australian's controversial and divisive views on gay marriage.

Three days before the 2018 tournament starts King - after whom the US Open's Flushing Meadows complex is named - stated that were she a competitor today she would not want to play on what is Park's secondary show court after Rod Laver Arena.

That question was posed to Tennis Channel's Mary Carillo by Jon Wertheim in the latest Beyond the Baseline podcast (listen here) during a discussion about Margaret Court, the 24-time Grand Slam singles champion.

She later claimed tennis was "full of lesbians" and that transgender children were the result of a Nazi-style "plot" to brainwash the minds of young people.

"Maybe some of the gay players wouldn't want to play there".

King, who is also gay, said she originally lobbied for Court to be honored by tournament organizers when they rename the stadium in 2003.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said there had been "conversations" about changing the name of the stadium but added there were no plans to do so.

And she suggested that some players would feel more strongly if another group was targeted by Court.

King, one of the original professionals in women's tennis and victor of 12 major singles titles in the Open era, said she had regularly met with Court at tournaments in the years since they retired after "we grew up together playing each other".

"I don't think she should have her name (on it) any more".

"It's really important if you're going to have your name on anything that you're hospitable, you're inclusive, you open your arms to everyone that comes", King said.

"I personally don't think she should have her name [on the court] anymore".

Court's negative comments about gay people before Australia voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage were heavily criticized past year. We're all God's children so I probably don't think it's appropriate to have her name. "I'm a gay woman. that really went deep in my heart and soul", King added. I just think she's gotten really derogatory.

Former World No 1 Billie Jean King has joined calls for the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne to be renamed after Court's "derogatory" comments about the LGBT community.

King said she wouldn't promote a boycott of the stadium, but encouraged players to "look inside their heart" before making a decision.

Martina Navratilova wrote an open letter earlier in the year criticizing Court and recommended that tennis officials rename the arena that bears the Australian's name at Melbourne Park. Margaret's views are her views, they're not the views of our organisation, they're not the views of our sport. But if you ask me, South Africa has the racial situation rather better organised than anyone else, certainly much better than the United States'.

The Perth-based Court said she would instead head to her holiday home and watch the tennis on television, while indulging her hobby of catching crabs.