The Fed Cup is converting its name to honour tennis great Billie Jean King, the lady whose lifelong fight for equality and social justice laid the root for generations that adopted.
The Billie Jean King Cup will grow to be the primary main world group festival to be named after a lady, the International Tennis Federation stated Thursday.
“I’m still in shock,” the 76-year-old King stated of the tribute. “It’s really a privilege, and it’s also a responsibility. It’s wild, it’s great, it’s wonderful.”
The rebranding follows previous changes to carry prize cash in step with the boys’s Davis Cup and coincides with the 50th anniversary of King’s pioneering effort to release a girls’s professional tennis circuit.
“We feel it’s long overdue,” ITF president David Haggerty stated. “All major team competitions, including Davis Cup, are named after men, and we think it’s really fitting that the women’s world cup of tennis would be named after someone as iconic as Billie Jean King, who changed the face of women’s sports.”
King and her friends, referred to as the “Original 9,” risked their careers to get started the Virginia Slims excursion. Their paintings led to the advent of the Women’s Tennis Association in 1973 because the organizing frame for ladies’s skilled tennis.
King’s early efforts led to the profitable prize finances and multimillion-dollar endorsement offers loved nowadays through most sensible gamers like Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka.
“Today, the players are living our dream, and we’re thrilled for them,” King stated. “Women’s tennis is the leader in women’s sports. We are also leaders in the fight for justice and equality.”
King received 12 Grand Slam singles titles, together with six at Wimbledon. But her most renowned fit got here in 1973 when she beat 55-year-old Bobby Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-Three within the “Battle of the Sexes.” The fit, regarded as to be a milestone within the promotion of ladies’s equality, used to be watched on TV through tens of millions world wide.
King’s affiliation with the Fed Cup is going again to its founding, when she used to be a member of the U.S. group that received the inaugural event in 1963 at Queen’s Club in London.
Then 19 years outdated, she recalled prodding her teammates: “This is history being made. We have to win it, so we always know we were the first. Come on! They said, Oh god, not you again. We know what the deal is.”
King, as a participant and trainer, received the Fed Cup trophy 10 instances — a report for a person. She used to be appointed as the contest’s first world ambassador in 2019.
Sixteen countries competed the primary time, while 116 entered for 2020. Twelve groups play within the Finals.
“The goal is to continue that outreach and Billie as an iconic figure, who is so well known, can help us do that,” Haggerty stated.
The Davis Cup — named for Dwight Davis, who performed within the inaugural event in 1900 — has extra countries and 18 spots in its Finals.
“I’d like to get more countries,” King stated. “We have 116, the guys have 142. The cultures are different in a lot of countries. We’re going to have a lot of work ahead of us to break things down.”
The Billie Jean King Cup Finals are scheduled for April 13-18 in Budapest, Hungary. King stated she “absolutely” will attend in April except there are coronavirus roadblocks.
The 2020 Finals for each tournaments have been scrapped this 12 months on account of the pandemic, even though qualifying countries will deal with their puts for the 2021 Finals.
King, the winner of 39 Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles and blended doubles, stated she’s “so fortunate” to be commemorated through the ITF. She recalled the past due tennis journalist Bud Collins proposing a Fed Cup name alternate years in the past.
“He said it had a horrible name. I had heard then that they were talking about naming me, or Chris Evert, or maybe another player,” King stated. “It never came to fruition through the years. I know how lucky I am and blessed. People have always championed me.”
King stated she’s pleased with nowadays’s stars for taking robust stances for social justice.
“Every generation,” King stated, “has something special to offer to this process.”