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By Chris Oddo | Saturday January 13, 2018

Billie Jean King made headlines on Friday when she expressed frustration with Margaret Court’s comments about the LGBTIQ community, and said if was her she would not play on the Arena named after the controversial Aussie sporting legend.

Billie Jean King: Rename Margaret Court Arena

"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."

On Saturday the players were reluctant to address the issue, with most saying they would play where assigned even if they didn’t necessarily agree with the stance that Court has taken. For those who were hoping that the tours might band together and boycott the arena, the lack of initiative shown by the players might come as a disappointment. But in truth, it’s a bit difficult to expect professional athletes to complicate their owns lives at a time when their mental focus is on preparing for and playing in one of their biggest events of the season.

We polled our readers on Twitter and a majority don't feel disappointed in the fact that there has not been much of a player response to King's comments.


For a unanimous boycott to occur, significant planning would have to be done, ideally long before the tournament is played. Maybe that happens someday in the not too distant future, but for now the players are keen on focusing on playing matches, not getting involved in political debates.

Here’s how the players reacted to questions about King’s comments on Saturday during pre-tournament press conferences:

Rafael Nadal

I don't have the whole information. Really, I am here to play tennis. I am not here for things that really doesn't have a big impact on the game.

I love the Margaret Court Arena. If the Australian Open decides to hold the name or decides to change the name, is not my decision. I am really just here to play in Australian Open. I going to play. If they put me to the Hisense, I play to the Hisense. If they put me to the Rod Laver, I play the Rod Laver. If they put me to the Margaret, doesn't matter the name, I play.


Grigor Dimitrov

I think there's no room for discrimination in our sport. I'm always appreciative of any court they put me to play on. Simple as that. Anything else, I mean, honestly I don't know what else to tell you on that. I think there's no room for that.

I'm very excited to play on Court 15 or Hisense, or whatever. I've been there, done that. Any court I play, I'm taking it as almost an honor right now.


Garbiñe Muguruza

I will play whatever they put me, which court. And I don't even thought about it. So I'm not even thinking. If I play on Margaret Court, the last thing I'm going to think is this. That's it.

I don't agree with what Margaret Court said. However, she's entitled to her own opinion. But, again, in terms of playing, if I'm scheduled to play on Margaret Court, I will go out there and compete. Again, it's a tournament decision where they put me.


Johanna Konta

Again, I think it's a Tennis Australia decision, I believe that is. I think it's unfortunate that this whole thing has even occurred, because it does overshadow why her name is on the court. It's not because of her beliefs, it's because of her achievements in the sport. It's unfortunate it's kind of meshed together when they're actually quite separate. But, yeah, again, not my decision.

Caroline Wozniacki

I mean, I just love this tournament. I'll play on any court that they schedule me on. I'm just happy to be here and have had opportunity.

Simona Halep

I'm not going commentating about this. Everyone owns their lives. About playing on court, I will play everywhere I am scheduled on. The tournament decides these things. Has nothing to do with me. But if I would be scheduled on Margaret Court, I will play on Margaret Court.


 

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