King, a 12-time Grand Slam singles champion, said she was “humbled” to have the competition named after her
Almost 60 years after Billie Jean King helped the United States win the inaugural Fed Cup, the team event is being re-named in honor of the greatest trailblazer in women’s tennis.
The competition, revamped this year to feature a 12-nation finals week to rival the men’s Davis Cup, would from 2021 be known as the Billie Jean King Cup, the International Tennis Federation said in a statement.
This year’s finals, scheduled for Budapest in April, were postponed for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
King, a 12-time Grand Slam singles champion and the founder of the Women’s Tennis Association, said she was “humbled” to have the competition named after her.
The Billie Jean Cup, sponsored by BNP Paribas, is the first major global team competition to be named after a woman and next year’s Finals in Hungary will boast $12m in prize money, equivalent to the revamped Davis Cup.
ITF president David Haggerty paid tribute to King’s fight for gender equality in sport and society.
King was part of the team that won the inaugural competition, then known as the Federation Cup, in London in 1963.
She won it seven times as a player and four as captain and was appointed its first global ambassador last year.
France, Russia, Hungary, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, the United States, Spain, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland will contest nest year’s inaugural Billy Jean King Cup Finals.