Billie Jean King On Margaret Court: “It Hurt My Feelings”

Billie Jean King has seen it all in tennis, but no matter what occurs in the sport, nothing compares to her “baby” World Team Tennis, which she started in the mid-1970s and is now in its 42nd season.

King spoke at the New York Empire media day, which fittingly will now be played at the tennis center that bears her name in Flushing Meadows. King was very candid about the controversy going on with Margaret Court and the arena, which is named for her in Melbourne.

“John McEnroe said they should have an Elton John concert at her arena” King said. “I think that is hilarious.”

Court, the Australian champion from the 1960s, is an Evangelical Pastor in her native country and recently made comments opposing same sex marriage in Australia, where it’s still illegal.

“We usually have lunch in Wimbledon every year and then sit in the royal box,” King said. “So, last year I asked her about it. I think a lot of people are raising money for her.”

Although King, who is a member of the LGBTQI community, opposes Court’s position, she feels she still should have her name on the arena. “I thought she shouldn’t have her name on the third court,” King said. “I thought her and (Rod) Laver should have shared the first court, because she was so exceptional. I’m always big on having a boy and a girl being equal.”

It’s that equality, which defined King’s life. In 1973, she competed against Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes, which is being made into a movie to be released later this year. Ironically, King took up the challenge after Riggs beat Court in another challenge in straight sets.

The win was an affirmation of what King strove to accomplish in the world of tennis. She fought for equal prize money for men and women at the grand slams and created World Team Tennis to have a team sport where men and women are playing together.

Although she knew about Court’s position for a while, King still takes exception to it.

“I’m big on acts of kindness and love, not hate,” King said. “I don’t like it when she runs down my community, the LGBTQI. I don’t like it when she runs down any community. It hurt my feelings.”

About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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