WTA pioneer King wants Margaret Court Arena renamed

The Australian Open will be partly played at the Margaret Court Arena, but the showcourt's name is mired in controversy.

WTA founding member Billie Jean King is in favour of renaming Margaret Court Arena.   -  Getty Images

WTA founding member Billie Jean King says Margaret Court Arena should be renamed over her contemporary's views on homosexuality.

Court holds more Grand Slam titles than any player in the history of tennis, with 64 victories across singles and doubles competition, but has become a controversial figure in recent years after backing 'No' in Australia's same-sex marriage vote, suggesting that women's tennis is "full of lesbians" and comparing LBGTIQ culture to "Hitler".

Australia's 64-time grand-slam champion has regularly defended her stance as part of her Christian beliefs.

King says she lobbied on behalf of Court to be recognised after the main tennis stadium in Melbourne was named after Rod Laver, however the American - a lesbian and civil-rights campaigner - says she would now refuse to play on the show-court named after her former rival.

"I was fine until lately she said so many derogatory things about my community. I’m a gay woman; about the LGBTIQ community," King said at a news conference after she was named the WTA's 'Woman of the Year' in honour of the 50th anniversary of her first Australian Open triumph.

"I personally don't think she should have her name (on the court) anymore.

"If I were playing today, I would not play in this court."

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley was quoted suggesting that "conversations" had been held about the court's name, but stopped short of suggesting that a change was in the offing.
"Our position hasn't changed," he said.

"Margaret's views are her views. (A name change) is up to a broader group of people and not up to one person or organisation."

Tiley also confirmed that Court would not attend the year's first grand slam, a move King lamented.

"I wish Margaret was here this year," she said. "We usually sit next to each other."

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