September 05, 2022

Margaret Court: Serena Never Admired Me: Serena Williams retired one major shy of Margaret Court's 24. Court, 80, is using the occasion to be all kinds of bitter. Court told an interviewer Williams won zero majors after having one baby while she won three after having two. "I would love to have played in this era. I think it's so much easier," Court said.

posted by rcade to tennis at 12:12 PM - 10 comments

So much easier my ass.

In a million years, Serena would have never lost a publicity match to a skinny old loudmouth white guy. And then need to have Billie Jean King come along to flatten the dude and straighten things out.

posted by beaverboard at 12:37 PM on September 05, 2022

Court won 13 of her majors before the Open Era when she was only facing fellow amateurs.

She was great for her era but doesn't rate serious consideration as being better than Serena.

And if she's upset about the lack of enthusiasm for her career today perhaps she shouldn't have been an outspoken anti-gay pro-apartheid bigot.

I'm looking forward to the day that the name Margaret Court Arena is changed.

posted by rcade at 01:09 PM on September 05, 2022

Court judging Serena is sort of like Tarkenton judging Favre.

posted by beaverboard at 02:55 PM on September 05, 2022

That anti-Tarkenton writer on Bleacher Report was so worked up he even blasted Tarkenton as a software executive.

If he had waited one month, he could've called him an alleged securities fraudster.

posted by rcade at 03:27 PM on September 05, 2022

That's better than defrauding a state's welfare program

posted by NoMich at 04:50 PM on September 05, 2022

Yeah, Favre is a dirty dog, and Madden is no longer around to beatify him.

posted by beaverboard at 08:12 PM on September 05, 2022

I actually think Court had some valid points, but she's certainly not better than the GOAT and she wraps all her points up in so much bigotry that it's hard to take her seriously. Would she seriously have said "We were taught to honor our opponent. We respected one another" to a white tennis player?

posted by Goyoucolts at 08:36 PM on September 05, 2022

Slight tangent, but an interesting thought: Many people forget (or simply don't know) that Margaret Court actually took Bobby Riggs up on his challenge before Billie Jean King did, but she lost to him. How much differently would she be viewed had she won?

If she does, then King never faces Riggs and is likely much less famous in tennis history. Would the "Billie Jean King Tennis Center" exist? Court would have the 24 majors and might have also been the feminist symbol that King ended up being. Maybe she'd be more respected then?

posted by TheQatarian at 09:14 PM on September 05, 2022

I was referring to Riggs when I previously mentioned the skinny loudmouth. I watched both of the Riggs matches live. Riggs had no business beating Court, but he got inside her head right from the get go. I don't know what they call it now, but back then, we called it psyching out your opponent. Their match was on Mother's Day, and when Riggs arrived, he had a big bouquet of flowers which he presented to Court and wished her happy Mother's Day. He had done a lot of yakking leading up to the match, and this floral gesture completely undid Court. She was totally uptight and not up to Riggs' gamesmanship. (Just like George Foreman was against Ali in Zaire the following year.)

Riggs had originally challenged King, but she wanted no part of it. Court then foolishly accepted the challenge. After Court lost, King knew she had to come in and take care of business. It wasn't just that a man had beaten a woman. It was the manner in which it was done. Riggs played a devilish carnival game of lobs and soft shots. He beat Court while looking like he was just goofing around and pranking her. He humiliated top level women's tennis as well as Court.

And livelihoods were on the line. At the time, women in tennis were being paid a scant fraction of what the men were being paid, and a fair number of male notables in the tennis world saw nothing wrong with that. King could not have Riggs reinforce the undervaluation of the women's game.

King knew she had the mental strength and strategic resourcefulness to endure Riggs' shenanigans and wipe him out. When she was done with him, everyone considered the matter closed. Begone, you annoying little man.

For all her stature, accomplishments, and contributions to the game of tennis, King would be revered today even if Bobby Riggs had never crawled out from under his papier mache rock to waggle his taunting finger. Riggs is just an ant sized footnote in King's resume.

Now all this is just the People Magazine version of professional tennis. The real gender battle began 3 years later when transgender player Renee Richards sued to compete in women's tournaments. It was a beginning point for the transgender sports wars that are going on today.

posted by beaverboard at 10:08 PM on September 05, 2022

Would she seriously have said "We were taught to honor our opponent. We respected one another" to a white tennis player?

With the understanding that your question was rhetorical, the answer is a loud "hell no."

And it's funny, you normally hear this form of racism directed at black athletes who are particularly flamboyant or have "too much fun" playing a game for a lot of money. I've always considered Serena to be all business and fairly taciturn in her approach. I know her dad alienated some people at the start of the sisters' careers by [correctly] predicting greatness for them both, but he soon let their playing do the talking. I know she had a high-profile meltdown at the French a few years back, but is generally reserved and respectful to the competition and is well-respected by her peers. So her thinly-veiled racist criticism isn't even particularly based in fact.

posted by tahoemoj at 05:32 PM on September 06, 2022

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