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Margaret Court’s husband lashes out at Billie Jean King over renaming tennis court

January 17, 2018
margaret court

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 29: Margaret Court poses with a bronze bust of herself during the 2015 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 29, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

The husband of anti-LGBT tennis ace Margaret Court has intervened in a row over renaming a tennis court.

Barry Court has condemned Billie Jean King after she 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 start 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.

Margaret Court
(Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)

“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 happy for her to have it,” she said.

But the barrage of homophobic and transphobic comments in recent months has led her to support the renaming campaign.

“I was fine until lately when she said so many derogatory things about my community — I’m a gay woman — about the LBGTIQ community,” King told the Sydney Morning Herald. “That really went deep in my heart and soul.”

Margaret Court (Photo by Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)

It was reported that the tennis champion, a former rival of King, made comments about transgender children “being from the devil”.

Now Barry has denied his wife ever made negative comments about transgender people.

“I suggest Billie Jean first check her facts before making allegations against my wife,” Barry Court wrote in a statement, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“We have reputable sources review all her press releases and interviews and cannot trace these remarks back to Margaret.”

Billie Jean King

King 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.”

9th July 1973: Margaret Court (nee Smith) of Australia in action at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

King, who is a lesbian, added that Court’s homophobia, “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.

Australians celebrate legalising gay marriage in Melbourne (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
(Getty)

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.

Related: Gay couple ‘tie the knot’ in protest wedding outside of the Margaret Court Arena

“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.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 15: Crowds supporting the Same Sex Marriage Survey listen to politicians and advocates at Taylor Square in the heart of Sydney's gay precinct on November 15, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. Australians have voted for marriage laws to be changed to allow same-sex marriage, with the Yes vote claiming 61.6% to to 38.4% for No vote. Despite the Yes victory, the outcome of Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey is not binding, and the process to change current laws will move to the Australian Parliament in Canberra. (Photo by James Alcock/Getty Images)

The 75-year-old 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.”

Despite the claims Christmas went ahead as usual in 2017.

More: billie jean king, lesbian, LGBT, margaret court, tennis, Transgender

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