Margaret Court opened up about becoming an ostracised figure in the tennis sphere and discussed Serena Williams’ lack of admiration for her in a rare interview.
The Australian holds the all-time record for Grand Slam singles titles, with her tally of 24 one more than Williams, who recently bowed out of the US Open in what is almost certainly her final major appearance.
Williams has been widely labelled as the “GOAT”, the greatest of all time, but Court was critical of the American and scolded her for not congratulating Ajla Tomljanovic after their fourth-round match.
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“Serena, I’ve admired her as a player,” Court, who won 13 of her 24 tiles before the Open era, told the Daily Telegraph. “But I don’t think she has ever admired me.
“I thought it was bad that Williams didn’t mention her opponent more when she spoke. We were taught to honour our opponent. We respected one another.”
Albeit brief, Williams had said – despite the focus being predominantly on her retirement – afterwards: “I tried, but Ajla just played a little bit better.”
Meanwhile, Court went into greater detail about being shunned by the tennis community. The 80-year-old is a pastor in Australia, and her deep religious beliefs have seen her speak out against same-sex marriage and LGBT rights – “It’s very sad for children to be exposed to homosexuality,” she said of Martina Navratilova in 1990 – as well as praising the old apartheid regime in South Africa.
“I was at Wimbledon this year and nobody even spoke to me. So I thought, ‘Ah, that’s interesting,’ said Court.
“It’s very sad, because a lot of the press and television today, particularly in tennis, don’t want to mention my name.
“It’s only when they have to, because I still hold so many records. In 2020, I was meant to be coming to Wimbledon for the 50th anniversary of my Calendar Grand Slam. But then Covid hit, so the honour never happened.
“The French Open didn’t invite me, the US Open didn’t invite me. Rod Laver had won the slam and I was going to be honoured in the same way, but no. I didn’t lose any sleep over it. But the honour 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.”
Discussing her own record compared to Williams’, Court also stressed she continued to win titles after she was a mother.
“Serena has played seven years more than I did,” Court added. “I finished in my early 30s. People forget that I took two years out. I first retired ... when I was 25, thinking I would never return to tennis.

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“I got married, had a baby, but then had one of my best years, winning 24 out of 25 tournaments.
“I came back after two babies. After having the first baby, I won three out of the four slams. And Serena hasn’t won a slam since [she had a baby].”
Court also claimed 11 Australian Open singles titles are just as valuable as Williams’ seven, and stated that the current tennis era is “much easier”.
“I often hear Billie Jean (King) saying that people didn’t come down to Australia in my early years,” she 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.

Serena Williams of the USA and former tennis player Margaret Court

Image credit: Getty Images

“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 don’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 honour the past of the game.”
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