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A contrite Billie Jean King tells Margaret Court: ‘Don’t judge us’ and ‘be kind’

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Tennis legend Billie Jean King says she’s “going to stop, probably” calling for the renaming of the Margaret Court Arena, but wants to see Court be “more loving.”

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Billie Jean King speaks onstage during the Women Changing The Conversation panel at HISTORYTalks Leadership & Legacy presented by HISTORY at Carnegie Hall in NYC on February 29, 2020.
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Icon Billie Jean King reportedly is now willing to “bury the hatchet” with homophobe and transphobe Margaret Court, and will stop calling for her name to be stripped from an Australian arena. But the offer includes a caveat: the tennis legend is asking the Australian native to stop hating on the LGBTQ community.

King, 76, is visiting Sydney with her partner, Ilana Kloss, right now, but told the New York Daily News that she intends to have this chat with Court if they meet at Wimbledon later this summer. What does she want to tell her?

“Don’t judge us,” King told reporter Tim Balk. “Be kind,” and be “more loving.”

That would be a big change for Court, 77, now a Pentecostal Christian minister, who in December used her pulpit to lambaste LGBTQ people, in particular transgender athletes and trans youth: “And you know with that LGBT, they’ll wish they never put the T on the end of it because, particularly in women’s sports, they’re going to have so many problems,” she stated from the pulpit. “You know, even that LGBT in the schools, it’s the devil, it’s not of God.”

Then Court made headlines in January when she denounced Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe for staging a protest in the Australian arena that bears her name.

John McEnroe, left, and Martina Navratilova paraded around Margaret Court Arena in Australia with a banner calling for the tennis court to be renamed on Tuesday, January 28, 2020.
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Court called it “very, very wrong.” After learning they had broken with protocol at the Australian Open, Navratilova and McEnroe apologized, but did not backtrack on their call for the Margaret Court Arena to be renamed because of Court’s bigoted views.

King told the paper that had she been in attendance, she would not have joined Navratilova and McEnroe in their protest.

It was in 2018 that King first called for that arena to be stripped of Court’s name. However, King revealed to the Daily News on Saturday that she initially wanted Court to get a whole tennis facility named after her, much in the way the USTA named the National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. for King, back in 2006.

Court’s behavior, said King, hasn’t been worthy of the honor.

“When someone has their name on something, you’ve got to be really hospitable, and I feel that Margaret’s not doing that,” King told the Daily News. She was in New York to take part in a panel on women’s rights at Carnegie Hall.

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Billie Jean King, Padma Lakshmi, Claudia Eller, Gloria Steinem and Ronan Farrow speak onstage during the Women Changing The Conversation panel at HISTORYTalks Leadership & Legacy presented by HISTORY at Carnegie Hall in NYC on February 29, 2020.
Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for HISTORY

“She’s mad at me, because she doesn’t want me to say her name should be removed,” King told the Daily News. “And I appreciate that. I’m going to stop, probably.”

You might say the ball is now in Court’s court. The minister had no response as of press time.