Billie Jean King, absolute tennis legend and founder of the Women’s Tennis Association, has now been honored with the Fed Cup being renamed after her, the Billie Jean King Cup.
The 2020 Fed Cup final was canceled because of the pandemic, so as of 2021 the competition will be called the Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas, the first major annual global team sports event to be named for a woman.
The premier international team competition in women’s tennis was launched in 1963 after decades of lobbying and was supposed to be the female version of the Davis Cup, which has been around since 1900 and was named for its creator, Dwight Davis. Initially it was called the Federation Cup, as the International Tennis Federation founded it, while in 1995 the name was abbreviated to the Fed Cup.
The 76-year-old King is a former American world No.1 and winner of 39 Grand Slam titles, but she’s much more than that — she has had a dominant role in making women’s tennis what it is today with her fight for equal rights and equal prize money.
King won the competition seven times as a player and was part of the United States team that clinched the inaugural Federation Cup title in 1963. Moreover, she won the tournament three times as a nonplaying captain, including in 1999 when she coached one of the most celebrated Fed Cup teams in history, consisting of Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles, Venus Williams and Serena Williams.
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