King’s rethink on Court Arena
Having once championed Margaret Court’s cause in regards to having a stadium court named after her, Billie-Jean King yesterday declared she would refuse to play on it if asked.
But Australia’s most recent grand slam champion Sam Stosur doubted a mooted boycott of Margaret Court Arena this month was a priority for current players.
Fifty years after winning the Australian Open, King returned to Melbourne for the first time in eight years in an appearance always likely to cause controversy given her history with Court and role as a champion for change.
Invited by Tennis Australia to lead an initiative aimed at improving equality, diversity and inclusion, King said she was disappointed with her rival’s “derogatory” commentary during the same-sex marriage plebiscite.
As a result, King has changed her mind in regards maintaining Court’s name on the Melbourne Park stadium named after the Australian legend.
“I probably don’t think it’s appropriate to have her name,” King said. “I was a proponent of hers, trying to get her the best possible court. She won 64 grand slams. She won more than everybody else. When Rocket, Rod Laver, got given the arena, I said ‘What are you going to do for Margaret?’
“But I think it’s really important, if you’re going to have your name on anything, that you’re hospitable, inclusive, (that) you’re opening arms to everyone that comes to a public facility.
“I just think she’s gotten really derogatory and when she talked about children (that are) transgender being from the devil, that put me over the edge.”
There has been talk of players boycotting Margaret Court Arena, but King said she would only “encourage them to seek out their own heart and mind”.
Stosur said she would “play on whatever court I am scheduled to play on”.
“It is obviously a hot topic in the press, but I wouldn’t say that too many players would have spent time thinking about whether they are going to play on Margaret Court Arena or not play on Margaret Court Arena going into the Australian Open,” she said.