Great Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup tennis captain Anne Keothavong has received an MBE for services to her sport in the Queen’s New Year’s honours list.
I think my parents deserve this recognition just as much as I do for creating all the opportunities for my siblings and I. Anne Keothavong
“I’m incredibly proud to be recognised for my contributions to and work in tennis in this country and I hope it can help inspire others to get involved in the game, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds,” Keothavong said.
“I think my parents deserve this recognition just as much as I do for creating all the opportunities for my siblings and I.”
The award comes as recognition of Keothavong outstanding contribution to the game during her career as a player, coach and tennis analyst.
Chief Executive of the LTA, Scott Lloyd said: “Anne has made a tremendous contribution to tennis in this country over the last two decades as both a player and more recently as a team Captain.
“It’s inspiring for many to have her honoured with an MBE and everyone at the LTA sends her our warmest congratulations.”
The former British No 1 has emerged as a respected coach and tennis analyst since her retirement from the game in 2013.
She learned to play as a 7-year old on her local park courts in Hackney, which was the start of the Londoner’s journey that would not only see her go on to play for and captain her country, but become an inspiration for young players and help to grow the profile of, and participation in, tennis in Britain.
Her playing career saw her win a total of 28 titles across all levels on the ITF Women’s Circuit, playing in the main draw of Grand Slam tournaments on 24 occasions and representing Great Britain in the London 2012 Olympics.
She was British No 1 at the year-end on five occasions and reached a career-high singles ranking of World No 48 in 2009.
Only Virginia Wade has represented Great Britain in the Billie Jean King Cup (previously called the Fed Cup) on more occasions than Anne, who has played in 40 ties and was the backbone of the squad for over a decade.
Aged 17 years and 221 days, Keothavong was the youngest Briton to represent her country in the Fed Cup team in 52 years, before that record was broken by Katie Swan in 2016.
She retired from playing in 2013 and took over from Judy Murray as captain of the Billie Jean King Cup team in 2017.
As captain, she has guided the team to promotion to the World Group for the first time in 26 years in April 2019, after victory against Kazakhstan at East London’s Copper Box Arena – a stone’s throw from where her own tennis story began in Hackney.
“This was definitely a nice surprise and I’m incredibly humbled and proud. Thank you for all the kind messages,” Keothavong reacted to the many messages of congratulations on Twitter.
Keothavong will lead the British team in the Billie Jean King Cup play-off against Mexico in February after a reversal of the original draw in a tie that had been due to be played in Mexico in April but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The ITF announced the switch of host country because Mexico had not managed to make sufficient progress in organising the rearranged clash on 5-6 February.
“The Billie Jean King Cup committee voted in favour of reversing the choice of ground due to delays to the organisation of the tie resulting from the ongoing presidential election process within the Federacion Mexicana de Tenis,” the ITF said in a statement.
“With additional operational challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, the committee has taken this decision to ensure that the organisers have sufficient time to successfully deliver a safe and secure tie.”
The decision will boost to Keothavong’s team, who would have faced a tricky tie on clay but will be strong favourites on an indoor hard court.
The winners will secure a place in the qualifying round for the 12-team finals event in 2022.