Billie Jean King: I’d love to talk to Margaret Court about her homophobic comments

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Tennis legend Billie Jean King has said she’d love to talk to erstwhile friend Margaret Court over her increasingly anti-LGBT beliefs.

Margaret Court, an Australian former tennis World Number One, made a splash earlier this year with a string of homophobic comments.

Rating to the media she likened gay people to Hitler, claimed that homosexuality is an ungodly “lust for the flesh”, that LGBT tendencies in young people were “all the devil”, and that older lesbian tennis stars have ‘converted’ younger players.

In a radio interview, she said: “Tennis is full of lesbians… when I was playing there was only a couple there, but those couple that led, that took young ones into parties and things.”

Margaret Court

The comments led to a call for Sydney’s Margaret Court Arena to be renamed.

Tennis legend Billie Jean King, a lesbian and a former friend of Court, opened up about the experience at the Toronto Film Festival.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, King said: “Margaret and I always sat together at lunch when we were at the same events but we got along in a very superficial way.

“I would love to talk to Margaret, and I think probably now I need to talk to her about what she’s saying.

“But she’s a Pentecostal minister with her own congregation so I don’t think it will help much or that she will change or adapt in any way.”

She added that it was a “shame” that there was now talk of renaming Margaret Court Arena, after the long campaign to get it dedicated to a female player.

King added: “I strongly felt [during the campaign] she deserved it because she got 64 grand slams which is more than anybody else to this day.

“Now I have questions about it, because of how she’s come out against the LBGT community and against marriage equality.

“Everyone has a right to state their opinion, but I also grew up as a Christian and I was a very religious young girl and always remember reading ‘judge not that ye be judged’ – that one always jumped off the page for me.
“Sadly, you can take any page in the Bible and use it your own way and she takes some other parts.

“If Jesus Christ was here, I think he’d agree that kindness and generosity and difference of opinion is OK.””