It’s wonderful to be part of the Great Britain Fed Cup team again. The team is here in Eilat for the Europe/Africa Zone Group I play-offs, with our captain Judy Murray and we’re trying to get out of this very competitive play-off and hopefully gain promotion into the top 16 nations.
There was a time when I didn’t think I’d play Fed Cup again because after playing in the Olympics last year, my foot was so bad that I was pretty sure I was going to retire. I had foot surgery in October and I started to really get the bug to play again and began planning my comeback. When Judy asked me if I’d like to be part of this I jumped at the chance.
Being back here in Eilat has brought some wonderful memories for all of us, because we won all our matches during the week and got through to the play-offs. It was a big moment for British women’s tennis and it was certainly one of the best weeks of my career. To be able to share it with your team-mates, the coaches and Judy makes it all the more special. It’s why I’ve always loved Fed Cup.
I’m not here playing because it came a bit soon in my comeback but I am able to hit with the girls and be here to support them and hopefully I will be able to help out the younger girls as well. Heather and Laura have started their journey and they’re on their way up but they will always have Anne and I there to help if they need us.
Johanna Konta will probably benefit the most from having Anne and I around this week because she’s a Fed Cup rookie. She had to make her traditional rookie speech the other night at the official dinner - her speech was very sweet and very respectful and polite. She’s such a nice girl. We have a proper laugh as a team. We play games every night, whether it’s Pictionary or word games. It’s so important to get together and do those things as a team and we have a giggle and take the ‘mickey’ out of each other every chance we get.
For me Fed Cup is so special because I take a real pride and honour in representing my country. I played in 43 ties over my career but to me it doesn’t matter if I play once, or 20 times, whenever you put a shirt on with your country written on the back it means as much to me as playing grand slams. Having that responsibility should mean a lot to everyone.
When you look at situation this week we’ve got a good chance of getting out of this group but it’s hard and anything can happen in these weeks. You never know what to expect and all you have to go on is your experiences from previous years. That’s where your team spirit can be really important.
We’d love to host a home tie if we got through and hopefully I’d be a part of it - it would be a great way to showcase all the good things going on in British women’s tennis. We’ve got a lot of talented players and things are looking very bright and sparkly.
We really raised the profile of Fed Cup in Great Britain last year and that was great, because people knew about Davis Cup but Fed Cup has quite a different format. I’ve even had people asking me when I’m playing Davis Cup and I’ve had to point out that it’s a men’s event (!) but after last year everyone at home seems to be much more aware of the competition. Fed Cup is our team sport and we’re very proud of it.
I’m so grateful to Judy for bringing me along and asking me to be part of this again. It’s fantastic for me to be here with our girls and to be back here in this circle again, around some of the best international players competing this week. It makes me even more excited and eager to get back out there playing again.