Billie Jean King backs calls to rename Margaret Court Arena in Australia


Tennis trailblazer Billie Jean King has called for a renaming of Margaret Court Arena due to the Australian legend's divisive views on sexuality.

In September, at the Toronto film festival premiere of Battle of the Sexes, a film about the 1973 tennis match between King and former men's champion Bobby Riggs, King said she was disappointed Court had urged a no vote in Australia's marriage equality postal survey. We're all God's children so I probably don't think it's appropriate to have her name.

It did not take long for King to be asked if she believed that the name of Court - the 75-year-old Australian who won a total of 64 grand slam titles, including a record 24 in singles - should still adorn the title of the second...

"I was fine until lately she [former Australian tennis player Margaret Court] said so many derogatory things about my community - I'm a gay woman. - about the LGBTIQ community", said King. "I'm a gay woman. that really went deep in my heart and soul", King added.

Former World No 1 Billie Jean King has joined calls for the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne to be renamed after Court's "derogatory" comments about the LGBT community.

King said she wouldn't promote a boycott of the stadium, but encouraged players to "seek their own heart and mind" before making a decision.

Court, now a church pastor, drew fire a year ago 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.

Court's negative comments about gay people before Australia voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage were heavily criticized a year ago. When she talks about the children of transgenders being from the devil, that put me over the edge.

Her comments before Australia voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage were heavily criticised past year, with 18-time Grand Slam singles victor Martina Navratilova writing an open letter condemning the remarks and urging officials to rename the arena at Melbourne Park.

King originally lobbied for Court's name to be attached to the the arena when the stadium was renamed in 2003.

Last year, fellow tennis star Martina Navratilova wrote an open letter in Fairfax Media calling for the arena to be renamed to remove all traces of the Australian champion.

Tournament director Craig Tiley said Court had a standing invitation to the season-opening major and would be welcome in the future.

He said there had been "conversation" among stakeholders of Melbourne Park regarding the issue, but there was no process in place to change the name of the stadium.

The issue is complicated by the fact the tournament is only a tenant of Melbourne Park, which is managed and operated by a government trust.

In 2006, the US Open facility was rebadged as the "USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre" in her honour.

"I was a proponent of her's, trying to get her to the best possible court", King said.

"You can have discussion around it".

"It's really important if you're going to have your name on anything that you're hospitable, you're inclusive, you open your arms to everyone that comes".