Australian Open-King-Margaret Court, 2nd Ld-Writethru,344

Billie Jean King believes the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne should be renamed

Billie Jean King believes the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne should be renamed

On the eve of the Australian Open, he returned serve on the 12-time grand slam victor who, along with fellow great Martina Navratilova, urged Tennis Australia to remove Court's name from the Melbourne arena named in her honour.

The Australian's name graces an arena in Melbourne Park because of her illustrious tennis accomplishments; she was the first woman in the Open era to win a calendar-year Grand Slam.

"What happened in Brisbane, that actually got better quite quickly, a lot quicker than I thought", said the Briton, who will play American Madison Brengle in her opening match in Melbourne on Tuesday.

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

"I personally don't think she should have (her name on the stadium) anymore", King said, echoing a growing sentiment that began to emerge past year after Court threatened to boycott Qantas airlines because of its support for marriage equality.

Australian Open organisers have made it clear they do not agree with Court's views, publicly and to Court herself, but have stopped short of pushing for a name change.

"That's all the devil, we'll say that it's the devil", Court said last summer.

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"If I were playing today, I would not play in this court", 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", she said.

"I personally don't think she should have her name [on the court] anymore".

"I wish Margaret were here this year".

"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", she continued.

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.

"I was fine until lately when she said so many derogatory things about my community; I'm a gay woman".

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The stadium was renamed after Court in 2003 in honour of that achievement and her record 24 major singles titles.

And she suggested that some players would feel more strongly if another group was targeted by Court.

Tennis Australia broke that silence Friday with the announcement of an initiative called #Open4All which would indirectly address Court's vitriol by highlighting the sport's tolerance.

Over time, King said, Court's comments about gays and lesbians "really went deep in my heart and soul".

"You can have discussion around it". "Our position has been pretty straightforward: Margaret's views are her views. But if I would be scheduled on Margaret Court, I will play on Margaret Court".

Tiley also confirmed that Court would not attend the year's first grand slam, a move King lamented.

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