October 24, 2018

Australian Open 2018: Billie Jean King wants Margaret Court Arena renamed

13 January 2018, 02:28 | Anna Jefferson

Billie Jean King calls for Margaret Court Arena to be renamed after homophobic comments

Margaret Court has had divisive views on sexuality

While stopping short of calling for a boycott, the 74-year-old former champion believes it is no longer appropriate for Court, who won a total of 64 Grand Slam titles in singles and doubles, to be honoured in this way. "It's a public facility".

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

Court has repeatedly criticised "the gay lobby" for trying to influence children with the Safe Schools program, which aims at promoting the acceptance of LGBTQ+ students.

Court's negative comments about gay people before Australia voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage were heavily criticized a year ago.

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

She said if she was still competing, she would not play at the Margaret Court Arena.

As controversy mounted over the name of the arena previous year, the host federation maintained nearly complete silence in the face of calls for the name to be changed because of Court's remarks about LGBTQ people and same-sex marriage, which recently became legal in Australia after receiving overwhelming support in a public referendum.

"I would love to talk to Margaret, and I think probably now I need to talk to her about what she's saying". It's a whole plot in our nation, and in the nations of the world, to get the minds of the children'.

"Maybe because of our community, the LGBTIQ community, people might feel differently, but we're all God's children".

The issue was always likely to be a topic of conversation, but has risen back to the top of the tennis news agenda after King's strong statements on Thursday.

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

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".

Tournament director Craig Tiley said Court had a standing invitation to the season-opening major and would be welcome in the future.

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. 'Margaret's views are her views.

Tiley said: "Our position has been pretty straightforward".

The former 64-time major victor, who is now a pastor at Victory Life Church in Perth, also once wrote a letter to the West Australian to express sadness that Casey Dellacqua's newborn child would be "deprived of his father".

"They're not the views of our organisation. they're not the views of our sport". We're inclusive, diverse, equal, and all the things Billie Jean said. "(A name change) is up to a broader group of people and not up to one person or organization".

Court's comments have led to widespread calls for the Margaret Court Arena to be renamed.

The 2018 Australian tennis open on Monday, January 15.

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