Friday, January 12, 2018

In Reversal, Billie Jean King Says Margaret Court Arena’s Name Should Change

Billie Jean King was definitely late to the LGBTQ rights party. But God bless her for finally diving in head first on this touchy topic, saying Friday that the Australian Open’s Margaret Court Arena should be renamed because of Court’s derogatory comments about gay and transgender people.

“If I were playing today, I would not play on it,” King said at a news conference three days before the tournament begins. King, who won her first Australian title 50 years ago by beating Court in the final, said, “I personally don’t think she should have her name anymore.”

Is it the “Battle of the Sexes” effect? I like!

The New York Times reports that King has often defended Court, and the arena, and her shift on Friday was her strongest criticism to date. King said she originally supported giving the arena Court’s name, a move that was made in 2003.

“I was really for her to have it,” King said. She then paused. “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. “It’s a public facility.”

Over time, King said, Court’s comments about gays and lesbians “really went deep in my heart and soul.” “I was fine until lately when she said so many derogatory things about my community; I’m a gay woman.”

The Gray Lady writes that King’s remarks appeared to catch tournament officials off guard.

As controversy mounted over the name of the arena last year, the host federation maintained almost complete silence in the face of calls for the name to be changed because of Court’s remarks about gay people and gay marriage, which recently became legal in Australia after receiving overwhelming support in a public referendum.

“Tennis Australia, along with the rest of the tennis family, proudly live the values of equality, inclusion and diversity,” said Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley.

Tiley announced that King had been named “Australian Open Woman of the Year,” and spoke of her legacy as a pioneer as she sat beside him at the podium.

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. I think if you were talking about indigenous people, Jews or any other people, I can’t imagine the public would want somebody to have their name on something. Maybe because of our community, the L.G.B.T.I.Q. community, people might feel differently. But we’re all God’s children. We are all God’s children, so I probably don’t think it’s appropriate to have her name.”

To be honest I was with Old Billie Jean initially, and would have been fine with Court's name being on the arena if she would just STOP TALKING. She's of a different generation, so if she had said "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman" during the cultural shift, fine. But she just will not let go -- telling out Aussie player Casey Dellacqua that her son "needs a man" in his life (Dellacqua and her partner are expecting a second child in April) and calling transgender children "the work of the devil" -- and blurts this stuff out even when no one is asking her. It's aggressively homophobic rather than passively so. What message does it send to the world at large to honor someone who behaves this deplorably?


Full statement HERE.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

with great honor comes great responsibility, and maggie's crossed the line more than once - it's time to erase her name, and her vile comments, from history, they've overshadowed her accomplishments in the sport.

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