11 March 2013

King, Casals, Austin receive Fed Cup 50 honour


Photo: Cynthia LumUSTA president Dave Haggerty with Fed Cup champions Rosie Casals, Billie Jean King and Tracy Austin

INDIAN WELLS, CA., USA: Fed Cup leading ladies Billie Jean King, Rosie Casals and Tracy Austin were honoured with a special replica Fed Cup trophy on Sunday at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

The specially engraved silver-plated trophies were presented to the former US Fed Cup champions at an honorary lunch hosted by the USTA to celebrate Fed Cup’s Golden Jubilee and honour players past and present. USTA president Dave Haggerty made the presentation on behalf of the ITF.

As part of the 50 years of Fed Cup celebrations, the ITF is recognising all those champions who did not receive a replica trophy when they won their title. It wasn’t until the early 1980s that the ITF started presenting trophies to each Fed Cup winning team member.

It was fifty years ago that the ITF launched the first multi-nation team competition for women following years of campaigning from players such as Hazel Wightman, Margaret Osborne and Mary Hardwick Hare.

One of the pioneers for women’s tennis and equal rights, King was part of the inaugural winning team in 1963 and went on to win 10 titles in total as both a player and captain. Casals was a five-time Fed Cup champion between 1967 and 1981, while Austin, who made her Fed Cup debut aged 15, helped win the title for USA in the three years that she competed in 1978-80.

ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “As Fed Cup celebrates its 50th birthday, we felt it was fitting to recognise all those players who won the title in the competition’s early years. These players fought hard to establish Fed Cup as a successful event in its own right, and it has gone on to become the  largest annual women’s international team competition. We hope that these trophies bring back good memories of their achievements.”

Twenty-six players from four nations will be honoured with the special trophies during this anniversary year, including fellow Americans Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, Australia’s Margaret Court, Judy Dalton and Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Czech Republic’s Renata Tomanova and Miroslava Bendlova, and Pat Pretorius, Brenda Kirk and Greta Delport, who won South Africa its only title in 1972.

Fed Cup players Lindsay Davenport, Jill Craybas and Liezel Huber, and grandson of first ever US Fed Cup captain Bill Kellogg also attended the USTA's commemorative lunch to share their stories from Fed Cup over the years.

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