August 27, 2021

(Reuters) – This year’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals will be played on indoor hard courts in Prague in early November, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) governing body said on Friday.

The women’s team competition featuring 12 nations, formerly known as the Fed Cup, was originally scheduled to be held in Budapest, Hungary in April last year but was twice postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ITF, which is also the governing body for the men’s Davis Cup, was looking for a new host nation after the Hungarian Tennis Association backed out in April saying it was no longer feasible to host the Finals due to safety reasons.

The Finals will now be held at the O2 Arena in Prague from Nov. 1-6.

“I am very happy that the Czech Tennis Association (CTA) could provide a solution when ITF President David Haggerty reached out seeking a new host for this year,” CTA chief Ivo Kaderka said in a statement.

Budapest was announced as host in 2019 when the Fed Cup was restructured into a World Cup of tennis format concluding with a 12 nations competing over one week for the title.

It was renamed the Billie Jean King Cup last year in honour of the American 12-time Grand Slam champion and women’s tennis trailblazer who was part of the winning team at the inaugural Fed Cup in London in 1963.

“It’s an honour to represent this historic competition and I want to thank the ITF and the Czech Republic for doing everything in their power to stage this year’s women’s World Cup of Tennis despite the challenging circumstances,” King said.

Previous host Hungary will be replaced in Group A by Canada, the highest-ranked winning nation at the playoffs in April this year, for the inaugural Billy Jean King Cup Finals, the ITF said.

France, Russia, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, the United States, Spain, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland will be the other nations competing.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Ken Ferris)