Laura Robson became the first current player at the Australian Open to advocate renaming Margaret Court Arena.
The former British number one believes Court’s outspoken and hugely controversial views about LGBT issues and same-sex marriage do merit action from Tennis Australia and the Victorian government.
Billie Jean King spoke out strongly against Court on the eve of the tournament but players competing in the year’s first grand slam have been reluctant to get involved in the row.
Robson said: “It’s a tough one because she obviously achieved so much but, if someone is being asked to play on that court and they don’t maybe feel comfortable, or people in the crowd feel a little awkward about sitting on there, then people need to have more of a think about it and decide what is best going forward. I would kind of lean towards renaming it.”
Robson has history on the matter after wearing a rainbow hairband during a first-round match on the court six years ago in a show of support for equal rights.
Sadly her lowly ranking now means she is a long way from playing another match in the arena but she was reminded of that moment this week when one of the ball boys from the match (@mitchgrow) sent her a message on Twitter to say how much it had meant to him.
Robson was thrilled to learn she had made such an impact, saying: “The message he sent me was so sweet. At the time you don’t know if it does anything or if it makes a difference. It seemed like such a minor thing for me to do then, but it obviously made a difference to someone else on that court. It was really lovely that he sent me that message so many years later.”
Robson also recalled the reaction her gesture received back home.
She said: “Some of my mum’s older friends were like, ‘Is Laura a lesbian?’ She was like, ‘I’ll have to ask her.’
“It just seemed like a nice thing to do at the time. I didn’t think too much about it before I went on court. It’s so nice, so many years later that someone reaches out to you and says, ‘That actually made a difference’.