king wants name of court off aussie open arena
MELBOURNE, Australia — Billie Jean King thinks one of the main venues at the Australian Open, Margaret Court Arena, should be renamed because of Court’s comments about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
King, a trailblazer for equality and diversity in tennis, said Friday that she had initially been a proponent of having Margaret Court Arena named in 2003 in recognition of the 24-time Grand Slam singles winner’s contribution to the sport.
"I was fine until lately when she said so many derogatory things about my community — I’m a gay woman — about the LBGTIQ community," said King, 74, one of the original professionals in women’s tennis and winner of 12 major singles titles in the Open era (from 1968). "That really went deep in my heart and soul.
"I personally don’t think she should have (her name on the stadium) anymore."
Court, 75, who holds the record for most Grand Slam singles titles across the amateur and Open eras, is a Christian pastor who lives in Perth, Australia. Her negative comments about gay people before Australia voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage were heavily criticized last year. Court also has called transgender children the work of "the devil."
Tournament director Craig Tiley said there had been "conversation" among stakeholders of Melbourne Park, site of the Australian Open, regarding the issue but no process is in place to change the name of the stadium.
The Australian Open begins Monday. King is attending for the first time in eight years, marking the 50th anniversary of her win over Court for the title. Court has been a regular at the event but is not attending this year.
King said she wished Court was in Melbourne so they could continue the conversation.
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