Tennis, specifically Billie Jean King and her coterie of admirers, has a looming crisis. It goes by the name of Margaret Court, hardly a new topic for the haters (mostly US-based) whose desperate attempts to distort history continue at a disturbing rate. When the 2020 Australian Open rolls around in January, King and her devotees will confront a historical reality at odds with their toxic narrative. Court will celebrate the 50th anniversary of her magnificent 1970 grand slam sweep. She will be feted in Melbourne, Paris, London and New York. As she should be.
Wimbledon hailed Rod Laver recently when the grand slam titan was presented with a replica trophy to mark his 1969 domination of the four biggest tournaments in the world. Court will get similar recognition next year. Only three women in history have lifted all four majors in the same season: Steffi Graf and Maureen Connolly are the others. Neither Graf nor Connolly attracts the same hostility as Court. King’s abhorrence of Court stems from the Australian’s stance on gay marriage, a position that prompted King to demand Court’s name be removed from the Melbourne Park stadium created in her honour.
If Tennis Australia submits to King’s call to erase Court’s name from Melbourne Park, it will spark a firestorm fiercer than that created by Israel Folau. King sits at the forefront of the campaign to discredit the validity of Court’s record 24 grand slam singles trophies. Asked if she thought too much was made of Court’s 24 majors, King replied: “I sure do. You gotta remember we didn’t play the Australian Open for many, many years, we played the Virginia Slims in San Francisco. We also played Team Tennis during the French Open. I think (Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova) would have had a lot more than 24, quite frankly.”
But King and others made their choices. Connolly, in 1953, took the trouble to travel to Australia. Court’s achievements were also attacked by a Women’s Tennis Association employee on CNN. Assessing Serena Williams’s pursuit of Court’s tally, the so-called expert told CNN: “I don’t think it is a record Serena needs, and I don’t think it is a record she should be chasing. The real record, it was Steffi Graf’s record, which she already broke. “When Steffi got 22, no one said, ‘Oh, you need two more to get to Margaret’.”
Source: Compiled by APN from media reports