Margaret Court and Billie Jean King were born one year apart (1942 and 1943, respectively) and became two of tennis' most influential stars in the 1960s and 1970s.

But off the court, the similarities are slim. Court, an Australian, is a Pentecostal Christian minister who has been an outspoken critic of the LGBT community. King, a lesbian, founded the Women's Tennis Association and Women's Sports Foundation and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom due in part for her work with gender equality and social justice.

"I was very religious when I was younger," King cracks. "I think she probably liked me a lot better then."

Last week during an interview on Vision Christian Radio, Court said, "Tennis is full of lesbians. Even when I was playing, there were only a couple there, but [they] led young ones into parties. And what you get at the top is often what you'll get right through the sport."

On transgender people, Court added, "You can think, 'Oh, I'm a boy,' and it will affect your emotions and feelings and everything else. That's all the devil."

King mostly kept her comments on Court light, laughing about John McEnroe saying he wants Elton John to "host the biggest same-sex mass wedding ceremony ever seen ... in Maragaret Court Arena," the No. 3 venue at Melbourne Park, home of the Australian Open.

Some players have said Margaret Court Arena should be renamed because of her comments. But King was emphatic to make the point that Court's name should stay. In fact, King reminded the media she was a proponent of Court getting her name of either center court or the No. 2 venue. more important court named after her (Margaret Court Arena is the No. 3 venue at Melbourne Park).

"I'm big on acts of kindness and love not hate, so I go, what are you talking about, children and the devil," King says. "To me, every child is never from the devil. I don't get it. I don't compete with all that.

"I don't like it when she runs down my community, the LGBTQI community. I don't like it. I don't like any community to be run down. So it hurt my feelings, I can tell you that."

As two of the greatest living Grand Slam champions, Court and King still come into contact with each other on a regular basis. If the two call each other out in the media, they talk about it face-to-face. King has actually talked to Court about LGBT rights and Court's chuch, Victory Life Centre.

"We usually have lunch at Wimbledon every year, then we go sit in the royal box together," King says. "I don't know if you know that, which I think is easy funnier. But I asked her about it last year. It's Victory and she had about 800 to 1,000 followers. With this controversy, I think she's had a lot of people try to raise money around it. I'm not sure."

Maybe the best part of the story: Billie Jean King actually had the news of Court's comments broken to her by Emma Stone. The Oscar-winning actress portrays King in the upcoming film, "Battle of the Sexes," which depicts King's 1973 match with Bobby Riggs.

"We text all the time, in fact, I knew about Margaret Court -- she's the one who texted it to me," King says of Stone. "I didn't even know it was even happening. I'm like, 'Emma sent that?' We've become much closer. It's gonna take time. I know she's be a friend now forever."

On Thursday, King was promoting the new home for the New York Empire of World TeamTennis. In its second season, the Empire is moving from Forest Hills to Court 17 of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows.

King was WTT's majority owner from 1984 to this past March. She was also league commissioner from 1984-2001, before giving the reigns to Ilana Kloss, her partner. Kloss, King and first-year Empire head coach Gigi Fernandez were on hand to introduce the Empire's new home. John Isner, Eugenie Bouchard and Mardy Fish will be the team's marquee players.

-- Follow Jeff Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband. Like Jeff Eisenband on Facebook.

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