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Margaret Court, considered one of the greatest tennis players in history, with her record 24 Grand Slam titles, says she was iced out of the tennis community, and despite her admiration for the likes of Serena Williams, she believes the same respect isn’t often returned.
In a rare Interviewed by The Telegraph, The 80-year-old Australian tennis star defended her victories after losing Williams in the third round at what is expected to be her final US Open.
“Serena, I admired her as a player,” Court told the outlet. “But I don’t think she ever admired me.”
Court, whose record still surpasses Williams’ 23 titles, found her victories came in less time – despite critics who discredit that by comparison because she won most of them during the amateur era.
“Serena has played seven more years than me,” she said. “I finished in my early 30s. People forget that I took a two-year hiatus. I retired like Ash Barty at 25 because I thought I would never return to tennis. I got married, had a baby, but then I had one of my best years where I won 24 tournaments out of 25.”
“I came back after two babies!” she continued. “After having the first baby, I won three of the four Slams. And Serena hasn’t won a Slam since.”
Court also argued that the sport was far more difficult in its day than tennis is today.
“I would have loved to have played in that era – I think it’s so much easier,” she told The Telegraph. “How I would have loved to take family or friends with me. But I couldn’t, I had to go alone or with the national team. People don’t see all that. As amateurs, we had to play every week because we didn’t have money. Now they can withdraw when they want to fly back whenever they want.”
“We were gone 10 months. That’s why I first retired in 1965 because I used to be homesick. You might be with one person or another, but it’s not like having your family there. We “We didn’t have psychologists or coaches with us. It’s a very different world. That disappoints me – that players today don’t honor the game’s past.”
Court, who became a Pentecostal Christian minister in the 1990s, said she believes she was essentially shunned from the tennis community because of her faith, including her opposition to same-sex marriage in Australia.
“It’s very sad because a lot of press and TV channels today, especially in tennis, don’t want to give my name,” she said. “Only if I have to because I still hold so many records.”
“In 2020 I was due to come to Wimbledon for the 50th anniversary of my calendar grand slam. But then COVID hit, so the honor never happened. The French Open didn’t invite me. the US Open didn’t invite me. Rod Laver had won the Slam and I would be honored in the same way, but no. I haven’t lost any sleep over it. But the honor wasn’t there for what I did. I’ve been awarded titles in my own nation, but they’d still prefer not to mention me.”
The court threw a final dig at Williams, saying she didn’t appreciate that she seemed to have ignored her opponent, Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic, in what is likely to be their final match.
“I hated that Williams stopped mentioning her opponent when she was speaking,” she says. “We were taught to be role models for the youth in our behavior. We were taught to honor our opponent. You have learned from your losses. We respected each other.”