This year’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals, the newly renamed Fed Cup team competition for women, have been rescheduled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the ITF announced in a statement on Thursday.
Everyone involved in this competition hoped that we would not be in this position, but unfortunately the Covid-19 situation remains serious and restricting. Health and safety comes first. Together with the NSA, and in consultation with the WTA, we are in the process of finalising new dates. David Haggerty, ITF President
The inaugural 12-team Finals were originally scheduled to be held last March before the pandemic forced authorities to put it back and then set the new date for April 13-18, 2021, in Budapest, Hungary, but no new dates have been announced for 2021 as yet.
The event involves over 60 athletes, their support teams, officials, and event staff.
The decision to reschedule is to protect the health and safety of all participants and the fans, and to ensure the delivery of an outstanding tennis event in safe conditions for those attending later in 2021.
Extensive work has been undertaken to prepare for the event in April in compliance with national health regulations and with strict Covid-19 protocols in place.
Several scenarios have been under review, which include playing behind closed doors but continued uncertainty and the challenges due to the Covid-19 virus, locally and internationally, have made it unfeasible to host a world cup team competition of this scale indoors in Budapest on the scheduled dates.
“Everyone involved in this competition hoped that we would not be in this position, but unfortunately the Covid-19 situation remains serious and restricting,” ITF President David Haggerty said. “Health and safety comes first.
“Together with the NSA, and in consultation with the WTA, we are in the process of finalising new dates.
“We continue to work our hardest to deliver a spectacular Finals event in 2021 and, like the players and fans, as well as Billie Jean herself, we are all looking forward to a memorable Billie Jean King Cup Finals later in the year.”
This season is set to be the first holding of the women’s tournament in its new format, held in one location, across one week.
The Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas Play-off ties, which will be played on a home-and-away basis, will proceed as announced by the host nations on 16-17 April 2021.
- Poland (c*) v Brazil
- Great Britain (c***) v Mexico
- Serbia (c) v Canada
- Latvia (c**) v India
- Japan (c*) v Ukraine
- Romania (c*) v Italy
- Argentina (c*) v Kazakhstan
- Netherlands (c**) v China
[* Choice of ground chosen by lot / ** Choice of ground guaranteed to host nations as away nations had not played their qualifying event ahead of the draw / *** Choice of ground switched to the host nation]
In November the ITF announced that the tie between Mexico and Great Britain will now be hosted by Great Britain, reversing the choice of ground due to delays to the organisation of the tie resulting from the ongoing Presidential election process within the Federación Mexicana de Tenis (FMT).
With additional operational challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Committee took the decision to ensure that the organisers have sufficient time to successfully deliver a safe and secure tie.
The two teams will compete for a place in the Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers in 2022 and since Britain have been granted choice of ground on this occasion, the next meeting between the two nations will take place in Mexico.
The tie will be played at the National Tennis Centre in London from 16-17 April, and is likely to be behind closed doors, meaning that for third time since 2019 captain Anne Keothavong’s team will have the opportunity to play on home soil after having played away for 26 consecutive years.
The NTC in Roehampton has been the training base for Britain’s leading players over the last year.
“The LTA’s National Tennis Centre is our home away from home and the team are very familiar with both the courts and the whole venue,” Keothavong said.
“We look forward to bringing our A-game against a tricky Mexican side in April and hopefully can use the opportunity to qualify for the 2022 Finals.”
The tournament was renamed last year in honour of Billie Jean King, who helped the USA win the inaugural Fed Cup in 1963.
France are the defending champions after winning their third title in 2019 when they beat Australia in the 2019 Fed Cup final in Perth.