Billie Jean King (R) has called into question Margaret Court's (L) grand slam record - a record dthat Serena Williams (inset) is just one victory away from equalling.
Billie Jean King (R) has called into question Margaret Court's (L) grand slam record - a record dthat Serena Williams (inset) is just one victory away from equalling.

Open warfare as Aussie great’s record attacked

AS Serena Williams bears down on the greatest milestone in women's tennis, Billie Jean King believes too much is made of Margaret Court's grand slam record.

King argues Court's tally of 24 majors is distorted because several of Court's rivals chose to bypass the Australian and French Opens in the 1960s and '70s.

With Williams one major away from matching Court's record, Women's Tennis Association pioneer King has again questioned the validity of the historic mark.

Asked at Wimbledon if too much is made of Court's 24 majors, King replied: "I sure do!"

"You gotta remember we didn't play the Australian Open for many, many years - we played the Virginia Slims in San Francisco.

"And we also played Team Tennis during the French Open. I think those two (Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova) would have had a lot more than 24, quite frankly."

Court won 11 Australian titles between 1960 and 1973.

The legacy of tennis great Margaret Court is under attack. Picture: Colin Murty
The legacy of tennis great Margaret Court is under attack. Picture: Colin Murty

She also amassed five French and US trophies as well as three at Wimbledon during the same period.

Court won 14 grand slam titles as an amateur and 11 as a professional after tennis entered the Open era in 1968.

Williams has 23 majors to her credit, the most recent at the 2017 Australian Open before leaving the tour to start a family.

King and Court, once friends, have fallen out badly over Court's views on gay marriage.

King claims Tennis Australia should rename Margaret Court Arena because of Court's stance.

Tennis legends Billie Jean King, left, and Martina Navratilova touch fists after being announced to the crowd at Wimbledon. Picture: AP Photo/Tim Ireland
Tennis legends Billie Jean King, left, and Martina Navratilova touch fists after being announced to the crowd at Wimbledon. Picture: AP Photo/Tim Ireland

Court will next year celebrate the 50th anniversary of her 1970 grand slam sweep.

Only two other women - Maureen Connolly (1953) and Steffi Graf (1988) - have won all four majors in the same season.

Margaret Court won an incredible 11 Australian Open titles.
Margaret Court won an incredible 11 Australian Open titles.

Rod Laver, who completed grand slam sweeps in 1962 and '69, was feted at Wimbledon on Saturday on the 50th anniversary of his last All England Club win.

King was in the Royal Box to share the moment.

Court is likely to be invited to Melbourne Park, Paris, London and New York next year to be recognised in a similar fashion.

Some tennis officials, sensitive to King's views on Court, continue to wrestle with Court's personal views and her achievements - and how to appropriately acknowledge those feats.