World No 1 Iga Swiatek has withdrawn from this year’s Billie Jean King Finals in Glasgow because of the poor scheduling of the event just one day after the WTA Finals in Fort Worth, saying it is potentially dangerous to expect players to compete in both.
I am dissatisfied, although I know that arranging everything is complicated. Certainly, the fact that the WTA and ITF federations, in a sense, did not cooperate to facilitate our task is irritating to me. I will definitely take steps to let them know about my dissatisfaction. Iga Świątek
The Billie Jean King Cup finals is being held in Glasgow from 8-13 November, 24 hours after the WTA Finals in Texas runs from 31 October until 7 November.
“I was thinking it through a lot and discussing it with my team all over again, but I will not be able to play at the Billie Jean King Cup in Glasgow,” Swiatek announced on Twitter. “And it makes me sad.
“I’m very sorry, because I play for Poland whenever it’s possible and I always give it my best.
“Playing in Poland this year (in the qualifiers in April) was an honour and I hoped to do this again at the end of the season.
“I’m disappointed that tennis governing bodies didn’t come to an agreement on something as basic as the calendar of tournaments, giving us only one day to travel through the globe and changing the time zone.
“The situation is not safe for our health and could cause injury.
“I’m going to talk to the WTA and ITF in order to change something. This situation is difficult not only for the players like me, but mainly for the tennis fans that support our sport.”
The ITF has vowed to work with the WTA to ensure players can play in both events in future.
“The ITF is sorry that Iga Swiatek is unable to take part, and recognises that the schedule for the two major year-end events presents a challenge for players competing in both events,” ITF president David Haggerty said on Tuesday. “We have been working with the WTA to try to coordinate suitable dates.
“While we were able to confirm the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Glasgow back in June, the WTA Finals venue in Fort Worth, Texas was confirmed during the US Open and restricted in terms of available dates.”
Poland are in Group D with the Czech Republic and the United States in the 12-team tournament in Glasgow.
Haggerty added that the ITF had revised the schedule to ensure Poland and the United States start their BJK Cup campaign as late as possible.
“We are committed to working with the WTA on the 2023 schedule so that we have a better transition between the two competitions,” Haggerty added.
The absence of the French Open and US Open champion is a blow to the Billie Jean King Cup Finals, which is hosted by Great Britain, who will take on Spain and Kazakhstan in the group stage, with Emma Raducanu as the main attraction.
Once again the WTA has driven rough-shod over British tennis, and with little regard for the needs of players.
“I am dissatisfied, although I know that arranging everything is complicated,” Swiatek told reporters in Ostrava. “Certainly, the fact that the WTA and ITF federations, in a sense, did not cooperate to facilitate our task is irritating to me.
“I will definitely take steps to let them know about my dissatisfaction.”
Swiatek has made representing her country a priority but, as the World No 1 and the winner of two Grand Slams, she is expected to be in Texas.
“I don’t understand the scheduling,” she admitted. “I’m not gonna lie that I’m happy about the fact that if I go deep in [the] Finals, I will have to, not only play tired, but also jet-lagged the next day.”
Swiatek’s father also slammed the WTA and ITF, who are charged with growing the women’s game but appear to have other priorities.
“It’s an extremely unfortunate deal, “ he said. “And yet we have a very difficult group for that in the BJK Cup.
“The dates of both events are missed. There is a clash between the ITF and the WTA. Instead of taking care of the development of women’s tennis, they cannot communicate.
“This is the second such conflict situation after Wimbledon, in which the organisers of the tournament and the WTA were unable to agree on the exclusion of athletes from Russia and Belarus.
“I really don’t like what happened with the overlapping of the Masters finals and the Billie Jean King Cup finals,” he added.
Having already hosted the group stages of the Davis Cup Finals and the Laver Cup in London, Britain is now set to stage another major event next month when the women’s premier team event has its finals in Glasgow.
It is the first time since the Federation Cup was held in Nottingham in 1991 that Britain hosts the team competition, joining Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Italy, Kazakhstan, Poland, Spain, Slovakia, Switzerland and USA in the Finals to compete for the 2022 world title.
The 12 nations will compete in 4 round-robin groups of 3 nations, with the 4 group winners qualifying for the semi-finals.
British captain Anne Keothavong said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to build the profile of women’s tennis and focus attention on women’s sport.
“The entire team are very excited about playing in front of a home crowd, and hearing some loud support across the whole week.”
Great Britain, who have never won the title but have reached the Final on 4 occasions, finishing as runners-up in 1967, 1970, 1972 and 1981, is only 1 of 4 nations to have competed in every year of the competition, alongside France, Australia and Italy.
The 2022 Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Finals is set to begin on Tuesday 8 November and will end 5 days later, on Sunday 13 November at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow.
Tickets are currently on sale via the official website, and cost as little as £8 for children, rising to £90 for premium tickets, while there are still tickets available for the final day, which will set fans back a little more.