Tennis great Margaret Court fired back at her former on-court rival Billie Jean King, who recently called for a name change to Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne on the basis that it’s a public facility and Court is anti-LGBT. Now Court, who skipped this year’s Australian Open where some of the matches were played at the arena named for her, has spoken out about King’s comments, according to the Daily Mail.
'I'm very surprised she came out with that to others. I'm disappointed in that,” Court said of King, who once championed for the 24-time Grand Slam winner Court to have an arena named in her honor.
By the start of the Australian Open earlier this month, King, who was honored as the event’s Woman of the Year said, "I personally don't think [Court] should have [her name on the stadium] anymore.”
The legend echoed a growing sentiment that began to emerge last year after Court threatened to boycott Qantas airlines because of its support for marriage equality.
“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 added. “That really went deep in my heart and soul.”
King also mentioned comments Court made about transgender children being of “the devil” on the Christian radio station Vision Radio last year, although Court denied she made those comments. But even if it’s true that Court didn’t specifically call trans kids Satanic, the Pentecostal minister’s legacy of hateful anti-LGBT statements in the name of Christianity is well-documented.
Court, who vehemently opposed marriage equality, enacted in Australia in December of last year thanks to the majority of Australians overwhelmingly voting in favor of marriage for same-sex couples, told the Daily Mail that she had been “persecuted” over her beliefs despite the litany of anti-LGBT remarks she’s made.
Prior to Australia’s mail-in vote that Parliament took as a mandate to pass marriage equality, Court said that LGBT people “want marriage because they want to destroy it. There will be no Mother’s Day, there will be no Father’s Day, there will be no Easter, there will be no Christmas.”
Following the vote, she chastised the Australian people, saying, “I think there will be a price to pay for it in the future in the nation and people will see it’s not about marriage. There will be a genderless generation.”
Last week Court’s husband, Barry Court, went after King for her call to rename the arena, telling the activist that she needed to “get her facts straight” over whether his wife actually made remarks against trans people.
But both Margaret and Barry Court missed the point that despite the good works she does like feeding the homeless at her sprawling Victory Life Church compound, Court is not welcoming to everyone. However, she was sure to tell the Daily Mail that she doesn’t hate LGBT people and that, in fact, she’s friendly with some who do the flowers for her church.
One of the gay florists told her that "if you come over to [the Open] I'd be the first to walk in with you," Court said.
Earlier this month King drove home the idea that with one’s name attached to a public facility comes great responsibility.
“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,” King said.
Meanwhile, Court summed up her stance on King’s sexuality saying, “I have nothing against her and her lifestyle. That's her choice.”