Billie Jean King says no need to rename Margaret Court Arena
Says she still respects her former rival despite Court's anti-gay views
Margaret Court's outspoken views against gay marriage have led some to call for the renaming the arena named after her at Melbourne Park where the Australian Open is currently underway.
But Court's former rival, openly gay Billie Jean King, is not among them.
'No, no, no, get rid of her for that? Because you don't agree with her? Are you kidding?' King tells The Desert Sun. 'Just because you don't agree with someone? Please. She deserves it. She's a great player.'
Earlier this week, tennis players and fans wore rainbow colored clothing in protest against Court's recent anti-gay comments. She same-sex marriage is an effort to legitimize 'abominable sexual practices that include sodomy' and has defended her right to speak out on what she believes is right or wrong.
She and King faced off many times during the 60s and early 70s and were the dominant players of their era. Court won the Australian Open singles title 11 times in her career and a record 24 grand slam singles titles overall.
Since their playing days, Court has become a Pentecostal minister while King has continued to fight for gender and LGBT equality in sports and in life.
'I totally respect her opinion, but I don't agree with her at all,' King says. 'We have a rising problem with homophobia globally. This is about civil rights. It's about equality, having equal opportunities and rights. Everyone gets too wigged out on it. I guess because it's sexual, people get funny. But it's just about equal rights. That's all it is. And I don't know what they're trying to make it into. It's just equal rights."