Australia Open: Johanna Konta’s views ‘don’t align’ with Margaret Court

Konta last played on Margaret Court when beating Ekaterina Makarova to book a quarter-final place at last year’s tournament
2018 Australian Open
Dates: 15-28 January Venue: Melbourne Park
Coverage: Watch highlights on BBC Two, the BBC Sport website and app. Live commentary on the best matches on BBC Radio 5 live, 5 live sports extra and online.

British number one Johanna Konta says her views “don’t align” with those of Margaret Court, but if scheduled she will play on the Arena named after the 11-time Australian Open champion.

The stadium was renamed after Court in 2003 in honour of that achievement and her record 24 major singles titles.

The 75-year-old’s stance on transgender children and gay marriage has lead to demands that her name is removed.

“I don’t agree with her. However, she’s entitled to her opinion,” said Konta.

“But in terms of playing, if I’m scheduled to play on Margaret Court, I will go out there and compete.

“It’s not nice to be answering these sorts of questions in 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. Yeah, kind of celebrating tennis in that way.”

Billie Jean King, a 12-time Grand Slam singles champion, said on Friday the Australian, who is now a Pentecostal pastor, should have her name removed from the Melbourne show court at the Australian Open because of her divisive views on sexuality.

The American, 74, added that she would refuse to play on Margaret Court Arena were she still competing.

Asked if she agreed that the stadium should be renamed, Konta added: “It’s a Tennis Australia decision.

“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.”

Edmund & Konta fit for first round

Britons Konta and Kyle Edmund will both head into the Australian Open fully fit after recovering from injuries.

Konta, seeded ninth, had played only once since retiring in Brisbane with a hip injury, while Edmund pulled out of Auckland with an ankle injury.

“It was just a precaution,” said Edmund, who faces 11th seed Kevin Anderson in the first round in Melbourne on Monday.

“I’ve been on court for two hours a day and it feels good, so I’m fine.”

Konta lost to Agnieszka Radwanska in Sydney on Tuesday, having retired against Elina Svitolina in Brisbane four days earlier.

“What happened in Brisbane, that actually got better quite quickly, a lot quicker than I thought,” said the Briton, who will play American Madison Brengle in her opening match in Melbourne on Tuesday.

“It felt fine in my match in Sydney, as well. Since then, just looking after the body as usual. So far so good.”

Heather Watson is the only other British player in either singles draw, and she opens against Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan on Tuesday.

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