Leylah goes for a hug with Billie Jean Cup Captain Heidi El Tabakh

Photo : Urs Lindt/freshfocus

This Friday and Saturday, Team Canada will battle against Serbia in their Billie Jean King Cup Play-offs tie. The Cup is literally the most prestigious women’s tennis international teams competition, and has been rising in importance since it’s inception way back in 1963. Players like Martina Navratilova, Serena and Venus Williams, and Simona Halep have all participated in the tournament.

It should go without saying that it will be awesome, but in case you still want to learn more, here are four things to know ahead of the Billie Jean King Cup matches happening this week:

 1. Fed Cup *IS* the Billie Jean King Cup.

For starters, the Fed Cup was short for the Federation Cup, which was created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ITF. ITF is an acronym for International Tennis FEDRATION. And here you go – that’s the history behind the Fed Cup name. Although we recognize the ITF’s major efforts in making this and so many other competitions, this story isn’t incredibly exciting, is it?

Renamed in 2020 as the Billie Jean King Cup, well, things get more interesting. Billie Jean King is a legend on and off the court. She won all four Grand Slams in singles and doubles, was the World No. 1, created the WTA as part of the original nine, and on top of all that, she fought, and still fights, for women’s and LGBTQ+ rights.

Now, THAT’s a worthy name for the Cup.

2. Canada can play for the title next year

This week, Canada competes against Serbia in the ‘Play-offs’ for a chance to make it to the ‘Qualifiers’ stage – and that’s a good thing! The Qualifiers stage gets to define who will book a place in the prestigious Billie Jean King Cup Finals, which itself is a week-long competition where 12 teams compete for the trophy.

You can read more about the new Billie Jean King Cup format here.

The Play-offs stage is a little different than other sports such as hockey: it is the stage just before the Qualifiers. We want to stay within reach of the Finals, and winning this weekend is crucial.

That winning smile. Captain Heidi El Tabakh. Photo : Urs Lindt/freshfocus

On the flip side, if we lose, we go back to the Regional stage, and must fight our way back into the play-offs, and then back into the qualifying stage. This means that we would only have a chance to play for the title in 2024, instead of 2022. However, we are confident that with the depth of talent we have, we’ll be competing for the trophy for many years to come. We will always support Team Canada regardless of the stage, though!

3. Canada is the favourite to win

Since we have the highest ranked singles player of the tie in Leylah Annie Fernandez and we are coming from the Qualifying round last year, Canada has very good chances to make it back. It is also worth noting that Fernandez has been rising as of 2020 when, at the Qualifiers stage, she beat then World No. 5 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland. That was Canada’s only win in the tie.

We also have some great players backing us up: Rebbecca Marino is a former World No. 38 who was a part of Team Canada at the Billie Jean King Cup on three other occasions. Sharon Fichman is the highest ranked doubles player of the tie at World No. 54. Finally, Carol Zhao, who is a former NCAA player (and champion), has a great deal of experience playing in teams competition.

4. This is the only time Team Canada will play at the Billie Jean King Cup this year

Win or lose, there won’t be another tie for Team Canada before 2022 after this one in Serbia. You don’t want to miss this opportunity! Trust us, it’s one of the best tennis competitions out there. You get to cheer for Canada and we get to PARTICIPATE together! We are a #TennisNation, and what better way to demonstrate how fierce we can be than to tune in and cheer for the Canadian women who will give their heart and soul this week?

Plus, you can be a part of the conversation as well by joining us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to send your rally cries to Team Canada! So grab your Team Canada swag and let’s support the girls this week 😀