British tennis star Johanna Konta has said she doesn't agree with Margaret Court's anti-gay views, but says she will play on the arena named after the former player if asked to do so during the Australian Open.
Konta, a former Wimbledon semi-finalist, told reporters that it was "unfortunate" that ongoing controversy over Court's anti-LGBT remarks threatened to overshadow the first grand slam of the year, which is set to begin on Monday (January 15).
The tournament's main show court, the Margaret Court Arena, was named after 24-time Grand Slam winner in 2003, but Court's highly public opposition to LGBT rights has lead to calls for the venue to be renamed.
Former world number one Billie Jean King reignited the debate last week when the openly gay sporting legend said she would refuse to play on the court were she still playing.
Margaret Court won 24 grand slams before retiring from the game in 1977.
"I probably don't think it's appropriate to have [Court's] name [on the stadium]," King said.
British number one Konta, 26, was asked about the controversy on Saturday (January 13), telling reporters that she would play wherever she was scheduled, but with a pointed remark that tennis is fundamentally about "equality."
"Wherever I’m scheduled. That’s out of my control. With respect to the controversy that’s surrounding that, I don’t agree with what Margaret Court said. However, she’s entitled to her own opinion," Konta said (via The Guardian).
Asked if Margaret Court Arena's name should be changed, Konta, who is currently ranked 10th in the world, replied: "It’s [their] decision, I believe. It’s unfortunate that this whole thing has even occurred, because it does overshadow why her name is on the court. It’s not because of her beliefs, it’s because of her achievements in the sport.
"It’s unfortunate it’s kind of meshed together when they’re actually quite separate."
She added: "Most of us, if not all of us, once the schedule is out, we’re going out there to play, regardless of what court we’re on. It’s not nice to be answering these sorts of questions in the press. It’s not really what this tournament is about. It’s not what these sorts of sporting events are about.
"They’re about equality, they’re about showcasing men and women, wheelchair tennis, kind of celebrating tennis in that way."
Konta's comments echo those of British men's number one Andy Murray, who voiced his own support for equality last year.
"I don't see why anyone has a problem with two people who love each other getting married," the two-time Winbledon winner said during the French Open. "
"If it's two men, two women, that's great. I don't see why it should matter. It's not anyone else's business. Everyone, in my opinion, should have the same rights."