ITF announces that women’s tennis world cup to be renamed the Billie Jean King Cup

It is the first time a global team competition, the former Fed Cup, has been named after a woman

Marianne Bevis
By Marianne Bevis
Billie Jean King (Photo: Srdjan Stevanovic / ITF)
Billie Jean King (Photo: Srdjan Stevanovic / ITF)

The Fed Cup, the largest annual international team competition in women’s sport, with 116 nations entered in 2020, is to take the name of Billie Jean King, one of her sport’s most celebrated champions and a life-long campaigner against discrimination.

King is a former world No1, and has won 39 Major titles: 12 in singles, 16 in women’s doubles, and 11 in mixed doubles. She often represented the USA in the Fed Cup and Wightman Cup, boasting seven wins with the US team in the former and nine in the latter. She was also the US captain for the Fed Cup for three years.

The rename of the Fed Cup follows the introduction of a new Fed Cup Finals format that will bring the 12 best nations together over one week in Budapest to compete to become world champions. And from 2021, under its new name, the Billie Jean King Cup Finals will award the biggest annual prize fund in women’s team sports, equivalent to that offered to the men playing Davis Cup Finals.

ITF President David Haggerty said:

“From playing the first Fed Cup as a member of the victorious US team in 1963, founding the WTA, and becoming its first President, to being the first female athlete awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, Billie Jean King has never stopped breaking new ground.

“Today she adds another ‘first’ to that list. The new name is a fitting tribute to everything she has achieved and will provide a lasting legacy that will inspire future generations of players and fans.”

King’s close personal association with the Fed Cup began at the inaugural tournament and was cemented over the next 40 years. She went on to lift the trophy more often than any other individual in history.

She was presented with the Fed Cup Award of Excellence in recognition of her achievements in 2010, before being appointed as the competition’s first Global Ambassador in 2019.

King said:

“There is nothing quite like the feeling of representing your country and being part of a team, which is why this competition is so special and important to me. It is an honour to have the women’s world cup of tennis carry my name and a responsibility I will not take lightly.

“Our job is to share this vision with future generations of young girls, because if you can see it, you can be it.”

Katrina Adams, the ITF vice-president, Fed Cup Committee Chair, and Chair of the ITF Gender Equality in Tennis Committee, added:

“This rebrand represents a significant moment in our sport. The Davis Cup is named after a man, so it is absolutely right that the women’s world cup of tennis is named after a woman. Given all she has achieved in our sport and her tireless efforts to champion equality around the world, I can’t think of a more worthy recipient of this honour than Billie Jean King.”

King concluded her message to fans of tennis with a call to arms.

“To all of you, to the players, captains, teams, and to fans worldwide, my message is simple: be bold. Tennis is unique, a sport for both teams and individuals. It demands that we take responsibility and work together to get to where we want to go.

“So be bold. Be brave. Be courageous. Be daring. Be a leader. Be challenging. Be inclusive. Be imaginative. Be trusting. Be caring. Be different. Be authentic. Be confident. Be vocal. Be gutsy. Be resolute. Be adventurous. Be purposeful. Be ready. Be attentive. Be intense. Be industrious. Be diligent. Be energetic. Be free. Be creative. Be inspirational. Be transformational. Be aspirational. Be unstoppable. Be grateful. Be ambitious. Be valiant. Be positive. Be kind. And be-lieve.”

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