Margaret Court feels she is not getting the admiration she deserves from the tennis world, and Serena Williams in particular.
The Australian record holder for Grand Slam titles with 24 to 23 by Williams defended her performances compared to Williams after the latter played what is believed to be her last match. a loss in the third round against Ajla Tomljanovic at the US Open on Friday night.
“Serena, I admired her as a player,” Court said Britain’s Daily Telegraph. “But I don’t think she ever admired me.”
Court, 80, said Williams played seven years longer than her and had more success than Williams after the pregnancy.
“I came back after two babies,” Court said. “After having the first baby, I won three of the four Slams. … Serena hasn’t won a Slam since [having a baby].”
court, who came under fire for her opposition to same-sex marriage in her native Australia, said her Christianity led her to become a tennis outcast.
“A lot of the press and television today, especially in tennis, don’t want to mention my name,” she said. “The honor wasn’t there for what I did. I have been given titles in my own nation, but they would still prefer not to mention me.”
Court’s record is widely considered to be less impressive than Williams’, although she has won more Grand Slams because she played primarily in the amateur era. She also won 11 of her grand slams in Australia, a competition that top players often skipped at the time – a perception she disagrees with.
“I listen to Billie Jean a lot [King] saying people didn’t come to Australia in my early years,” Court said. “But world No. 1 Maria Bueno came down. So does Christine Truman, Ann Haydon, Darlene Hard. Also, Australia had some wonderful players. We had five girls in the top 10. Lesley Bowrey has won two French Opens.”
Williams last won a Grand Slam in Melbourne at the 2017 Australian Open when she was eight weeks pregnant. Since then, she’s largely slowed down her game schedule, only playing the US Open, Wimbledon and a few tuneups each this year.
Though she’s refrained from saying “retired,” Williams wrote in Vogue that she is “evolving” away from tennis.
Court said life as a tennis player was tougher in her day than what Williams experienced.
“I would have liked to have played at that time. I think it’s so much easier,” she said. “I would have loved to have taken family or friends with me. But I could not. I had to go alone or with the national team. People didn’t see any of this.
“We didn’t have any psychologists or trainers with us. It’s a whole different world. That’s what disappoints me – that players today don’t honor the game’s past.”
Court had one more attempt to meet Williams, noting that she barely mentioned Tomljanovic after her loss.
“I hated that Williams stopped mentioning her opponent when she was speaking,” Court said. “We were taught to honor our opponent. We respected each other.”