The Fed Cup will be renamed as Billie Jean King Cup, the International Tennis Federation announced on Thursday.
Almost six decades after King helped the US to win the inagural Fed Cup, the tournament becomes the first tennis competition to be named after a woman.
The ITF said that the change of name is being done to honour King c onsidered the greatest trailblazer in women’s tennis for her lifelong battle for equality and social justice.
The announcement ties in with the 50th anniversary of King and eight other players, known as the “original nine”, breaking away from the tennis establishment to form their own circuit and leading to the foundation of the WTA.
“We feel it’s long overdue,” ITF president David Haggerty said.
“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,” he added.
King said she was surprised with the announcement but accepted it as an honour.
“It’s really a privilege, and it’s also a responsibility. It’s wild, it’s great, it’s wonderful.”
“It’s really an honour and I’m very grateful,” said King, who won 10 Fed Cup titles as a player and captain.
“It’s very exciting. I’m still not sure it’s true. Then my mind always turns to what I want to accomplish - let’s get going.”
The name change comes ahead of the first edition of the new finals week - delayed from 2020 - which will take place next year in Budapest, with 12 teams battling it out for the trophy.
A prize money fund of $18 million will be paid out, the biggest for an annual women’s team competition and equivalent to the Davis Cup.
With AFP Inputs