Mary Joe Fernandez, USA Fed Cup captain, and Silvia Farina, the player with the most Fed Cup wins in Italian history, were honoured with the 2009 Fed Cup Award of Excellence on Sunday by the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
The Award was inaugurated in 2001 and is presented to past and present members of a Fed Cup team who best represent the ideals and spirit of the competition.
Presenting the Award on court shortly before the start of the reverse singles in Reggio Calabria, were ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti and Jane Brown Grimes, honorary president of the ITHF.
"Mary Joe and Silvia have played an important role in the history and growth of the Fed Cup, with Mary Joe leading Team USA to their first final in six years and Silvia posting such tremendous results for Italy over the years," said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti. "They have both been active contributors to the Fed Cup and we are honoured today to present them with the 2009 Fed Cup Award of Excellence."
Current US captain Fernandez was a member of the 1996 winning Fed Cup team. During her career, Fernandez had seven WTA Tour singles victories, 17 doubles titles and was ranked as high as No. 4 in the world. Fernandez captured two Grand Slam doubles victories (1996 French Open with Lindsay Davenport and 1991 Australian Open with Patty Fendick). In addition, she was the runner-up in three Grand Slam singles tournaments. Fernandez also owns two Olympic gold medals, won in partnership with Gigi Fernandez. She retired in 2000 and is currently a commentator for ESPN.
Italy's Farina reached a career-high world ranking of No. 11 in 2002 and represented Italy on nine Fed Cup teams and three Olympic teams. During her career, she recorded 23 Fed Cup victories, more than any other Italian player in Fed Cup history. She captured three singles victories and 11 doubles victories on the WTA Tour.
Past recipients of the Fed Cup Award of Excellence are Spain's Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and Conchita Martinez in 2001; Great Britain's Virginia Wade in 2002; Larisa Savchenko of Latvia in 2003; Olga Morozova of Russia in 2004; Françoise "Frankie" Durr of France in 2005; Sabine Appelmans of Belgium in 2006; Lea Pericoli of Italy in 2007; and Miguel Margets of Spain in 2008.