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Chris Evert wants to keep Margaret Court’s name on tennis arena

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Evert says Court’s tennis accomplishments should be honored.

BNP Paribas WTA Finals: Singapore 2015 - Singapore Tennis Evening
Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova had one of the fiercest tennis rivalries ever, and are now friends. These two women won every Grand Slam singles title from 1982 to 1984.
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images for WTA

Tennis great Chris Evert has weighed in on the Margaret Court Arena controversy, and she’s siding with the tennis legend.

Evert said in a recent interview with the New York Daily News that the arena should continue to bear the name of the Australian tennis great, despite her public statements about LGBT people.

“There’s a controversy — should they take (Court’s) name off the (Margaret Court Arena)? No. You’re celebrating her tennis.”

Evert said that Court’s name is on the arena because of her tennis accomplishments, and her name should stay on the arena because of that. Court won more career singes and doubles Grand Slam titles — 64 — than any other man or woman in history. It’s a record that will likely never be broken. Evert won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, tied with Martina Navratilova for fifth most by a woman, and she has the record for most Grand Slam singles appearances by a woman, 34.

Evert’s position was the position of her friend Billie Jean King until only recently. Despite Court saying some pretty mean things about Navratilova being a lesbian and being on the record opposing marriage equality, Court continued to get King’s support. It’s only been with a heightening of messaging by Court — likening the LGBT community and its members to “Hitler” and “the devil” — that King finally had enough and has called for the renaming of the arena.

To be clear, Evert said that Court’s statements don’t sit well with her.

“Her philosophy bothers me, yes,” she told the Daily News.

With so few female athletes recognized with arenas named after them and regarded as highly as Court is in the tennis world, it’s understandable why someone like Evert would be really cautious about removing a woman’s name. No doubt it’s one of the reasons King came to her current position more slowly than others.