Australian tennis great Margaret Court said her admiration for Serena Williams is not reciprocated after the American retired just one Major short of equalling her all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.
Williams was widely hailed as the greatest player ever after she bowed out of the sport following defeat by Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic in the third round of the US Open on Friday.
But the 40-year-old ends her career with 23 Majors, one behind Court, who holds the overall record for men and women.
“Serena, I’ve admired her as a player,” Court told Britain’s Daily Telegraph in a rare interview.”But I don’t think she has ever admired me.”
The 80-year-old, who works as a church pastor in Perth, has become a divisive figure in tennis over her remarks on race and homosexuality, including opposition to gay marriage.
Court felt she is not as appreciated in the sport despite her stellar record throughout the 1960s and early 1970s.
“It’s very sad, because a lot of the press and television today, particularly in tennis, don’t want to mention my name,” she said.
“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 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.”
She added: “I was at Wimbledon this year and nobody even spoke to me. So I thought, ‘Ah, that’s interesting’.”
Overall, Court won 64 Grand Slam titles, including singles, doubles and mixed doubles competitions, compared with Williams’ overall tally of 39. (StraitsTimes)