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Billie Jean King now wants Margaret Court’s name stripped from arena

King reverses course, says she would refuse to play on the court.

Sports Icons Press Conference Unveiling Plans for the Museum's Billie Jean King International Women's Sports Center Photo by Brian Ach/WireImage

Out lesbian tennis legend Billie Jean King has joined Martina Navratilova in publicly supporting the removal of Margaret Court’s name from the Australian Open arena named after her. Court has made many dark, anti-LGBT comments over the years, including fighting publicly against same-sex marriage.

“I personally don’t think she should have her name [on the arena] any more,” King said Friday, according to Reuters and various other outlets. “I was fine until lately she said so many derogatory things about my community. That really went deep in my heart and soul.”

This is a departure from her more nuanced thoughts on the issue in the past. King said her mind changed when Court referred to transgender people as children of the devil.

“When she talks about the children of transgenders being from the devil, that put me over the edge,” King said Friday.

However, Court said that last June, and King has since then held back from directly calling for the removal of Court’s name, saying she has “mixed feelings” about it. Mary Carillo, who has a piece on this very issue coming on HBO Real Sports later this month, said King in the last couple months has held back from wholeheartedly calling for a name change. So what really changed King’s mind is uncertain.

Court’s name is on the arena because she has won more Australian singles titles — 11 — and more overall Grand Slam titles — 64 — than any other player in history. That latter record is one that very well may stand forever.

Martina Navratilova said when Court made those comments that the arena’s name should change.

Now King, who has until been more nuanced in her comments about the name, says she agrees, and that she would refuse to play on the court if assigned during the tournament. As of now, no players have refused to play there.