Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

WTA pioneer King wants Margaret Court Arena renamed

WTA pioneer King wants Margaret Court Arena renamed

Billie Jean King has said one of the main venues for the Australian Open tennis tournament should be renamed because of Margaret Court's comments about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

"When you were named after Margaret Court, it seemed like the right thing to do", Navratilova explained in her.

Court, who has opted to take a crabbing trip rather than attend the Australian Open tennis tournament that runs January 15-28, part of which will be played at the arena named for her, recently chastised the Australian people for voting overwhelmingly in favor of marriage equality in a mail-in ballot that Parliament then honored by making equality the law of the land.

"I wish Margaret was here this year", she said.

Court, 75, who holds the record for most Grand Slam singles titles across the amateur and Open eras, is now a Christian pastor who lives in Perth, Western Australia.

Speaking three days before the tournament is set to stat at the Australian Open court, King said that if she were still in her prime days as a tennis player she would refuse to play a match at the arena. "It's a public facility". "We are all God's children, so I probably don't think it's appropriate to have her name".

"Maybe it's our community, the LGBTIQ community -people might feel differently".

King said Court's attacks on sexually diverse people were the last straw.

"I'm a gay woman".

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

King drew a contrast between herself and Martina Navratilova, who has been calling for the name to be changed since previous year, saying she had needed to be "very reflective before I come out and say anything". When she talked about children of transgenders being from the devil, that put me over the edge. King said at a media conference Friday.

The players have been placed in a hard position and Konta was one of the few willing to really engage with the subject at her pre-tournament press conference.

'I was fine until lately when she said so many derogatory things about my community - I'm a gay woman - and that really went deep in my heart and soul.

"I just feel like she's gotten really derogatory".

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.

But she said while she personally supported a change, the decision was ultimately up to the people of Australia and would not be easy. Margaret's views are her views, they're not the views of our organisation, they're not the views of our sport.

"I was a proponent of her's, trying to get her to the best possible court", King said.

"We're an organisation that celebrates diversity and inclusivity and equality. [A name change] is up to a broader group of people and not up to one person or organization".

Konta goes into the Australian Open as the ninth seed and reported a clean bill of health after the hip injury that forced her to retire in Brisbane last week.

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