What Is The Billie Jean King Cup In Tennis?
The Billie Jean King Cup, formerly known as the Federation Cup, is an annual women’s team tennis tournament. Dozens of nations aim to qualify for a spot in the main tournament, with the best players representing their respective nations. Read on to learn more about the Billie Jean King Cup in tennis.
- Website: https://www.billiejeankingcup.com/
- Founded: 1963
- Location: Multiple locations (changes annually)
- Venue: Multiple venues (changes annually)
- Surface: Acrylic, asphalt, carpet, clay, hybrid clay, artificial clay, concrete, grass or artificial grass
- Prize money: $8 million (2023)
The Billie Jean King Cup was first established as The Federation Cup in 1963 as a celebration of the International Tennis Federation (ITF)’s 50th anniversary. Mary Hardwick Hare, a retired tennis player from England who was living in the United States, proposed to the IT the creation of a women’s-only, world-wide team tennis tournament, for which there was widespread support.
Convinced by Hare, the ITF held the very first Fed Cup in 1963 to celebrate the organization’s 50th anniversary, and it was a smashing success. Sixteen nations from across the world put together teams, despite there being no prize pool or other monetary incentive for the winners. The United States women took home the tournament’s first title and have since gone on to win a record 18 Fed Cup titles.
The Federation Cup was renamed to honor tennis legend Billie Jean King in 2020. Today, over 100 different countries are represented in the Billie Jean King, and it is the world’s largest annual international women’s team competition in all of sports.
Countries participating in the Billie Jean King Cup put together teams of four women. Those teams are then divided up into three regions based on location: the American, European/African, and Australian/Asian zones. Within each region are two to three groups, to which teams are assigned based on their strength.
The Federation Cup can be thought of as a year-long league, complete with relegations and promotions for the worst and best countries, respectively. Each year, the 16 best countries in the world are put into what are called World Groups I and II (8 teams in each group). The qualifying structure for both groups is quite complicated, but nations can be promoted or relegated between the World Groups and the Regional Groups depending on their performance each year.
Billie Jean King Cup World Group
The World Group is contested between the eight best teams in the world each year. The four winners of first-round matchups from the previous year automatically qualify for the next year’s World Group. The losers of the previous year’s first-round matchups play in a playoff with the four winners of the World Group II to determine the final four spots in the next year’s World Group. The winner of the World Group is declared the winner of the Billie Jean King Cup.
What is the Federation Cup in tennis?
The Federation Cup is another name for the Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas. The international women’s team tournament was founded in 1963 as The Federation Cup (commonly nicknamed The Fed Cup). After nearly four decades, the tournament was renamed in 2020 to honor Billie Jean King and is now commonly abbreviated as the BJK Cup.