Billie Jean King fires a volley at old foe Margaret Court

The former rivals in 2016. Pic Getty

The former rivals in 2016. Pic Getty

Fifteen years agon when an arena at Australia's Melbourne Park was named for the country's 24-time Grand Slam victor Margaret Court, tennis legend and activist Billie Jean King spoke on behalf of honoring the former athlete turned Pentecostal minister for her towering achievements in the sport.

Court also criticised Australian player Casey Dellacqua for having two children with her female partner, and her comments led to a threat of a boycott at the third show court in Melbourne that was named after the 24-grand slam victor in 2003.

"I wish Margaret were here this year".

And King believes Australian Open authorities, whose invitation to Court to attend this year was declined, should remove her name from the venue. King, a pioneer of the WTA tour, also said she would have refused to compete in the arena if she was still playing.

"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", Court said after the marriage vote.

King said she would refuse to play on the arena if she was appearing at next week's tournament, but she wouldn't counsel others to do so.

"Her tireless work for equality transcends her reputation as a sporting legend", he said.

But when King was asked about Court's name on the arena, she said: "I know it's not as easy as people think, but I personally don't think she should have her name anymore".

"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.

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King said she wouldn't promote a boycott of the stadium, but encouraged players to "look inside their heart" before making a decision. "It's a public facility". If you were talking about indigenous people, Jews or any other people, I can't imagine the public would want somebody to have her name on something.

Last year, fellow tennis star Martina Navratilova wrote an open letter in Fairfax Media calling for the arena to be renamed to remove all traces of the Australian champion.

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

'Maybe it's our community, the LGBTIQ community (why) people might feel differently. When she talks about the children of transgenders being from the devil, that put me over the edge.

King, 74, spoke out at a press...

She said: "They want marriage because they want to destroy it".

"No, our position hasn't changed", Tiley said.

King was keen for Court to be honoured for her remarkable career by having a stadium named after her, but now thinks the title should be stripped for her "derogatory" comments. "As far as the name of the arena, that's up to a broader group of people than just one person or one organization".

"It is now clear exactly who Court is: an unbelievable tennis player, and ... a homophobe".

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