Billie Jean King has called on the Margaret Court arena to be renamed in light of Court’s continued homophobic and transphobic comments.
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.
“If I were playing today, I would not play on it,” she said. “I personally don’t think she should have her name anymore.”
When the arena was named after Court in 2003, King supported it.
“I was really for her to have it,” she said.
But as Court expressed openly derogatory ideas in the lead up to Australia’s same-sex marriage plebiscite, King dropped her support for her former fellow tennis player.
She said: “I think it’s really important if you’re going to have your name on anything that you’re hospitable, you’re inclusive, you’re open arms to everyone that comes. It’s a public facility.”
“I know it’s not as easy as people think, but I personally don’t think she should have her name anymore.
“I think if you were talking about indigenous people, Jews or any other people, I can’t imagine the public would want somebody to have their name on something. Maybe because of our community, the L.G.B.T.I.Q. community, people might feel differently.
“But we’re all God’s children. We are all God’s children, so I probably don’t think it’s appropriate to have her name.”
King, who is an open lesbian, added that Court’s homophobia had “really went deep in my heart and soul”.
“I was fine until lately when she said so many derogatory things about my community; I’m a gay woman,” King added.
King is one of a long list of people who have called for the arena’s name to be changed.
However, the decision lies with the host federation – and so far the body has remained silent on the debate.
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Now, there is mounting pressure from Tennis Australia, who just launched it’s “Open4All” campaign which aims to make tennis a more inclusive space.
Unfortunately, the arena cannot be named after King as the facility that hosts the United States Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., was christened the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in 2006.
“Every time I see my name up there, I can hardly breathe because of the responsibility that goes with it,” King said. “If I’m going to have my name on anything, I would welcome Margaret, I would welcome Pentecostals, I would welcome whoever. Whether I agree with them or not is not important; I would just be more welcoming. I just feel like she’s gotten really derogatory.”
Court claimed that Christmas, Easter and Mother’s Day would be cancelled if the country voted in favour of equal marriage.
She said: “They want marriage because they want to destroy it.
“It’s not about marriage. It will affect Christian schools, it will affect freedom of speech.
“There will be no Mother’s Day, there will be no Father’s Day, there will be no Easter, there will be no Christmas.”
The vocal opposer of same-sex marriage refused to attend the Australian Grand Slam, raising questions as to whether her lack of attendance is due to players petitioning to change the venue after she made a series of homophobic remarks.