Australian tennis great Margaret Court, who holds the all-time record for Grand Slam singles titles with 24, is getting blasted for what she said about Serena Williams amid her retirement from the sport.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, the 80-year-old said that even though she has admired Williams as a player, Court doesn’t “think she has ever admired me.”
“Serena, I’ve admired her as a player,” Court told Britain’s Daily Telegraph. “But I don’t think she has ever admired me.”
She added that Williams played seven years longer than she did and had more success following pregnancy than Williams.
“I came back after two babies,” Court said. “After having the first baby, I won three out of the four Slams. … Serena hasn’t won a Slam since [having a baby].”
Court says she has become an unwelcomed name in the tennis community because of her personal beliefs. She came under heavy fire for her opposition to same-sex marriage in her native Australia.
“A lot of the press and television today, particularly in tennis, don’t want to mention my name,” she said. “The honor has not been there for what I did do. In my own nation, I have been given titles, but they would still rather not mention me.”
“I often hear Billie Jean [King] saying that people didn’t come down to Australia in my early years,” Court said. “But Maria Bueno, the world No. 1, came down. So did Christine Truman, Ann Haydon, Darlene Hard. Plus, Australia had some wonderful players. We had five girls in the top 10. Lesley Bowrey won two French Opens.”
Williams last won a Grand Slam in Melbourne, at the 2017 Australian Open while she was eight weeks pregnant.
Court said life as a tennis player in her day was harder than that which Williams experienced.
“I would love to have played in this era. I think it’s so much easier,” she said. “How I would love to have taken family or friends along with me. But I couldn’t. I had to go on my own or with the national team. People didn’t see all that.
“We didn’t have psychologists or coaches with us. It’s a whole different world. That’s what disappoints me — that players today don’t honor the past of the game.”
She then took one shot at Williams, noting that she barely mentioned Tomljanovic following her loss.
“I thought it was bad that Williams didn’t mention her opponent more when she spoke,” Court said. “We were taught to honor our opponent. We respected one another.”