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Evert: Keep Court's Name On Arena

Chrissie Evert doesn't agree with Margaret Court's views on same-sex marriage, but supports Court's right to free speech and believes the Australian Open should keep the 24-time Grand Slam champion's name on Margaret Court Arena.

Fellow Hall of Famers Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova, who are both gay, have advocated removing Court's name from Margaret Court Arena and renaming it in honor of Aussie legend Evonne Goolagong.

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Evert told The New York Daily News' writer Christian Red the arena celebrates Court's tennis achievements and therefore should retain her name.

“I don’t agree with (Court). Her philosophy bothers me, yes," Evert told the Daily News. "But at the same time, I’m (for) free speech.

"There’s a controversy: should they take (Court’s) name off the (Margaret Court Arena)? No. You’re celebrating her tennis."

Court opposes same-sex marriage and has suggested in the past there are lesbian predators on the WTA Tour. Evert said while she's bothered by Court's comments, she does not regard the all-time Grand Slam leader as a "bad person."

“But sure, it bothers me," Evert said. "I believe that (Court) 100 percent isn’t a mean or bad person. I think she goes strictly by the Bible. In her mind, she’s right."

In an interview with Mary Carillo on HBO's Real Sports, Court, who is now a Christian Pentecostal minister in Perth, Australia, said homosexuality is a choice.

"Marriage is between a man and a woman," Court told Carillo. "The bible says it. I should be able to share it without people throwing stones at me. It’s a choice in life...

"Yeah, they haven’t proven that they’ve been born (gay).”

King, who presented the trophies following the Australian Open women's final, told Carillo she would refuse to play on Margaret Court Arena if she were still on the WTA Tour today.

"If I were still playing, I would not play on that court," King said. "I don’t give a flying whatever, I’d say I’m outta here. If they say you have to play on that court or you can’t play, I’d go: I’m out.”

Navratilova has called on Tennis Australia to rename MCA in honor of Goolagong, who was courtside for the Australian Open finals. In a HBO Real Sports interview with Carillo that aired this week, Navratilova called Court out directly.

“There’s nothing wrong with me. I don’t need you to pray for me Margaret," Navratilova said. "Let’s get down to basics, what does it matter if my partner has a penis or not? Who does it affect except the two of us? Nobody else.”

Photo credit: Zimbio