Billie Jean King calls for Margaret Court Arena to be renamed

Billie Jean King calls for Margaret Court Arena to be renamed

Court also criticised Australian player Casey Dellacqua for having two children with her female partner, and her comments led to a threat of a boycott at the third show court in Melbourne that was named after the 24-grand slam victor in 2003.

"But in terms of playing, if I'm scheduled to play on Margaret Court, I will go out there and compete".

King, a trailblazer for equality and diversity in tennis, said she had initially been a proponent of having Margaret Court Arena named in 2003 in recognition of the 24-time Grand Slam singles winner's contribution to the sport.

King, one of the original professionals in women's tennis and victor of 12 major singles titles in the Open era, said she had regularly met Court at tournaments in the years since they retired after "we grew up together playing each other".

'That really went deep in my heart and soul.

Asked if Court's name should be removed - as is being widely debated - she said, "It's [their] decision, I believe".

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

The Australian tennis great is also an opponent of gay unions and stated in the past that lesbianism on the women's tour has a corrupting influence on young players, as Breitbart Sports.

"I wish she were here so we could further this discussion", King said of Court.

"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", she said.

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Mr Court said his wife's decision not to attend the Open "was not unusual, as she had four children and nine grandchildren and very proud of them all, and has taken the chance during the school holidays to spend time with her large family". Maybe because of our community, the LGBTIQ community, people might feel differently.

Court, a fundamentalist Christian, has targeted same-sex parents - including Australian player Casey Dellacqua - and has argued for conversion therapy for gay people.

Court, now a church pastor, drew fire previous year for saying she would avoid Qantas airline for its support of same-sex marriage, which became law in her homeland in December following a referendum.

Australian ace Sam Stosur suggested there was little locker room chatter about the divisive issue.

Craig Tiley, Australian Open tournament director, said: "Our position has been pretty straightforward".

King drew a contrast between herself and Martina Navratilova, who has been calling for the name to be changed since a year ago, saying she had needed to be "very reflective before I come out and say anything".

"They're not the views of our organisation ... they're not the views of our sport".

"Now there is a person we can all celebrate".

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

The arena is managed by the Melbourne and Olympics Parks Trust under the purview of the Victorian Government.

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