(ATR) The Fed Cup is now the Billie Jean King Cup.
ITF president David Haggerty (upper right) and vice president Katrina Adams (lower left) joined Billie Jean King (lower right) for a virtual press conference. (ATR)
The annual women’s team tennis event – which began in London in 1963 – will bring a fresh look in 2021 with the new name, honoring King, a pioneer for women’s tennis, and the most decorated player and captain in the event’s history having raised the trophy 10 times.
“Be Bold, Make History” is the new slogan of the tournament. BNP Paribas will remain as the title sponsor.
International Tennis Federation (ITF) president David Haggerty made the announcement during a virtual press conference, joined by the tennis legend King and ITF vice president Katrina Adams, on Thursday.
“This is the first time a major global team competition has been named after a woman and the ITF is proud to be driving this change,” Haggerty said.
“As a global campaigner for equality, who has dedicated her life to fighting discrimination, Billie Jean King perfectly represents the values of this competition.”
“I feel a huge responsibility because I feel this as a force of change as we keep fighting for equality,” King said, about the newly bestowed honor.
“The Billie Jean King Cup will be built on the founding principles of equality, inclusion and freedom, and it will be a showcase of programs like the ITF’s Advantage All initiative, which is our gender equality strategy for the 21st century.”
King has won the event named after her a record 10 times as player or captain. (ITF)
King and her U.S. teammates were victorious at the inaugural women’s team event at Queens Club in London in 1963.
“We were so excited to capture the first title on June 20th – I’ll never forget it,” she said. “Playing for our country and playing on a team has always been so fulfilling for me.”
Haggerty informed that the prize money of the annual women’s team event is being increased, making the total purse equivalent to that of the men’s Davis Cup.
In addition to BNP Paribas staying on as title sponsor of the multi-city event, Microsoft and the Magellan Corporation have signed on as new sponsors.
The American ITF chief also noted that the newly titled Billie Jean King Cup Finals, scheduled for Budapest, Hungary in April, will replace the 2020 edition, which was postponed due to Covid-19.
The Junior women’s team competition will also adopt the Billie Jean King name.
The 77-year-old American tennis legend is a former world number one player who captured 39 Grand Slam titles over an illustrious 31-year professional career.
King during the virtual press conference on Thursday (ATR)
A record 116 countries participated in the 2019 edition, a number that King hopes continue to grow.
“This increase is something I know we should all celebrate, but we’re not done yet,” said the American tennis icon.
“This is our time to be bold and this is our time to make history.”
“Tennis is in a great place, we’re going to add more nations to the event and we have equivalent prize money,” Haggerty said, referring to the men’s Davis Cup tournament.
ITF vice-president Katrina Adams pointed out the tennis federation’s leading role in gender equality while highlighting its Advantage All initiative.
“This is an IOC initiative for women's sport and to know that we in tennis, are being leaders in this area in our sport, of what the IOC is doing, is really an honor,” Adams said.
“It’s not just about the women, it’s also about the men because we can’t do it without them and together we can move closer towards gender equality.”
King believes that there is still plenty of work ahead.
“We have so much to do, we’re not even close in regards to equality.
“We have a platform and we want to break down barriers.
“Keep going, never give up,” she added.
Homepage photo: ITF
Written and reported by Brian Pinelli
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