Billie Jean King calls for Margaret Court Arena renaming

Billie Jean King calls for Margaret Court Arena renaming

The tennis champion admits that she was one of the proponents of the push to have part of the Rod Laver Arena named after Court in recognition of her tennis achievements, but says Court's comments about gender and sexuality have gone too far.

File image of former tennis player Billie Jean King.

A contemporary of King, 75-year-old Court is a Christian pastor and has campaigned against same-sex marriage, which recently became legal in Australia after a plebiscite last year.

"I personally don't think she should have her name [on the stadium] any more", King said, adding that the hurtful remarks "went deep in my heart and soul".

King said she originally lobbied for Court to be honoured by tournament organisers but she could no could longer support the showcourt bearing her friend's name because of her views.

'If I were playing today, I would not play on it.

The former 64-time major victor, who is now a pastor at Victory Life Church in Perth, also once wrote a letter to the West Australian to express sadness that Casey Dellacqua's newborn child would be "deprived of his father".

"I think if you were talking about Indigenous people, Jews or any other people, I can't imagine the public would want to have her name on something", the 74-year-old said.

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"I wish Margaret was here this year", she said.

"'I think it's its really important, if you're going to have your name on anything, that you're hospitable, inclusive, you're opening arms to everyone that comes to a public facility", she said.

However, she said comments from her friend previous year blaming the devil for people being transgender "put her over the edge". "I'm a gay woman; about the LGBTIQ community", she said.

"I probably don't think it's appropriate to have her name [on the stadium]".

King said she would not encourage players to boycott matches in the showcourt over Court's views, however.

Since leaving professional sport Margaret Court has founded her own church, The Victory Life Centre, which is based in Perth.

Court has announced she will not attend this month's tournament, although she denied she was avoiding the tournament after the controversy. But if you ask me, South Africa has the racial situation rather better organised than anyone else, certainly much better than the United States'.