Margaret Court's Australian Open boycott: Why all the controversy?

Margaret Court's Australian Open boycott: Why all the controversy?

"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 said at news conference Friday.

King's remarks appeared to catch tournament officials off guard.

Martina Navratilova, an 18-time Grand Slam singles victor, wrote an open letter a year ago criticizing Court and recommended that tennis officials rename the arena after another Australian great, Evonne Goolagong Cawley.

Sam Stosur, Australia's No 1-ranked woman, floated the possibility of players boycotting the Margaret Court Arena in protest.

But as Court expressed openly derogatory ideas in the lead up to Australia's same-sex marriage plebiscite, King dropped her support for her former fellow tennis player.

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

'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'.

"Maybe because of our community, the LGBTIQ community, people might feel differently but we're all God's children".

She said she wished Court was at the Australian Open this year so they could have an open discussion about the issue. When Rocket, Rod Laver, got given the arena, I said: "what are you going to do for Margaret?"

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"That's what Hitler did and that's what communism did, got the minds of the children".

The issue was always likely to be a topic of conversation, but has risen back to the top of the tennis news agenda after King's strong statements on Thursday. In another interview she said transgender children were "the devil".

King drew a contrast between herself and Martina Navratilova, who has been calling for the name to be changed since past year, saying she had needed to be "very reflective before I come out and say anything".

"She won 64 grand slams". She is actively trying to keep LGBT people from getting equal rights (note to Court: we are human beings, too). "The tournament decides these things", said the Romanian.

"No, our position hasn't changed", Tiley said. "Margaret's views are her views".

In sport, nearly always a bastion of conservatism, those holding disreputable views have long adorned not only stadia, but also the administration of games. "They're about equality, they're about showcasing men and women, wheelchair tennis, kind of celebrating tennis in that way". "[A name change] is up to a broader group of people and not up to one person or organization".

UNITED States Open champion Sloane Stephens today weighed into the simmering row about Melbourne Park's Margaret Court Arena, saying there shouldn't "be hate towards anyone" ahead of next week's Australian Open. Whether any of the hundreds of players who might be assigned matches there would refuse to compete is yet unknown.

Konta goes into the Australian Open as the ninth seed and reported a clean bill of health after the hip injury that forced her to retire in Brisbane last week.

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