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King: Rename Margaret Court Arena


Billie Jean King has heard enough.

The Hall of Famer has joined a group of former champions in calling for the Australian Open to change the name of its Margaret Court Arena because of controversial comments 24-time Grand Slam champion Margaret Court has made about homosexuality.

Photo Gallery: Australian Open Practice

"[I] certainly didn't think they should have her (Court's) name anymore," King said at a press conference.

Court has claimed pro tennis is "full of lesbians", alleged older lesbians have preyed upon younger players and has been a vocal critic of same-sex marriage.

King, who is gay and fell to Court in the 1969 Australian Open final, said the Aussie's repeated "derogatory" comments about the gay community "went deep in my heart and soul."

"I was fine until she said lately so many derogatory things about my community. I'm a gay woman ... that really went deep in my heart and soul," King said. "If you were talking about indigenous people, Jews or any other people, I can't imagine the public would want somebody (with those views) to have their name on something. Maybe because of our community, the LGBTIQ community, people might feel differently."

Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova has called on Tennis Australia to rename the arena the "Evonne Goolagong Arena" in honor of the former Wimbledon champion and Aussie great. 



The Court controversy erupted last yaer after tennis’ all-time Grand Slam leader voiced her opposition to same-sex marriage.

The 74-year-old Court, who is now a Christian Pentecostal minister in Perth, Australia, said she will no longer fly Qantas Airlines after the company’s CEO expressed support for same sex marriage.

The former world No. 1 defended her views opposing same-sex marriage in an appearance on Network 10’s “The Project” television program.

"I may have been a tennis champion, but even as a young person, I’d agree marriage is between a man and a woman," Court said. "I think if people read the first two chapters of the bible they find out where I stand and believe…

"I have nothing against homosexual people, but don’t touch marriage."

The 7,500-seat venue, which has a retractable roof and also hosts basketball and net ball, was officially re-named Margaret Court Arena as a tribute to the 11-time Australian Open champion on the eve of the 2003 Australian Open.

The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the US Open, is named after King, who initially supported Tennis Australia naming its arena in honor of Court. But King said Court's comments are hurtful to the gay community and prompted her to change her position on the arena.

Hall of Famer John McEnroe offered his view lambasting Court in a funny and expletive-laden tirade for Eurosport last year.




The controversy gained so much attention down under Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull weighed in with his view last spring.

While Turnbull personally favors marriage equality, he says the Arena honors Court’s achievements as a tennis champion and therefore should not be renamed regardless of her personal views.

"Whatever people may think about Margaret Court's views about gay marriage, and she's entitled to have them," Turnbull said. "She is one of the all-time greats and the Margaret Court Arena celebrates Margaret Court the tennis player. She is one of the greatest greats of tennis and that's why the arena is named after her."

Court told the Melbourne Herald Sun she does not plan to attend the Australian Open, which begins on Monday.

Photo credit: @Billie Jean King

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