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Laura Robson suggests renaming Margaret Court Arena over homophobic remarks

The British tennis star is the first active player to voice support for the measure.

By Will Stroude

Tennis star Laura Robson has suggested that the Margaret Court Arena at the Australian Open should be renamed.

The former British number one, 23, has become the first active player to voice support for the measure following repeated homophobic and transphobic remarks by former player Court, 75.

“Yeah, I would kind of lean towards renaming it,” Robson said.

“It’s a tough one because she obviously achieved so much but, if someone is being asked to play on that court and they don’t maybe feel comfortable, or people in the crowd feel a little awkward about sitting on there, then people need to have more of a think about it and decide what is best.”

Margaret Court Arena, was named after 24-time Grand Slam winner in 2003, but Court’s highly public opposition to LGBT rights over the years has lead to increasingly vocal calls for the venue to be renamed.

Former world number one Billie Jean King reignited the debate earlier this week when the openly gay former player said she would refuse to play on the court were she still on the women’s tour.

Meanwhile, current British number one Johanna Konta has said she “doesn’t agree” with Court anti-gay views, saying tennis is fundamentally about “equality.”

Roboson has past form when it comes to demonstrating her support for LGBT rights on the court.

In 2012, the then 17-year-old former Wimbldeon junior winner hit the headlines after wearing a rainbow-coloured headband while palying on Margaret Court Arena.

Robson was thanked this week by a gay former ball boy who was on court for the match, who said the public display of support “meant the world to him” at the time.

Twitter user @mitchgrow wrote: “I retreated to tennis bc it was safe/queer role models/strength outside masculinity etc. My first day as a ballkid in 2012 was on MCA. Margaret Court had some ‘opinions’ before the tournament & I was extra nervous going out there. Immortalising a name immortalises their message.

He added: “This issue goes beyond players but it’s important that they stand up for the people who put them out there. @laurarobson5 wore & celebrated pride as a 17yo on MCA in 2012.

“It meant the world to me as a bb gay standing on the same court.”

Commenting on the message, Robson told BT Sport: “The message he sent me was so sweet. At the time you don’t know if it does anything or if it makes a difference.

“It seemed like such a minor thing for me to do then, but it obviously made a difference to someone else on that court. 

“It was really lovely that he sent me that message so many years later.”

She added: “It just seemed like a nice thing to do at the time. I didn’t think too much about it before I went on court.

“It’s so nice, so many years later that someone reaches out to you and says, ‘That actually made a difference’.”