This weekend Great Britain play Kazakhstan in the Fed Cup for a chance to make it to the elite World Group for the first time in 26 years. They will play at London's Copper Box arena and home support could be crucial to the outcome. The Fed Cup is the world's premier women's team competition, but how much do you know about it? Here is our top ten list of things you might not know.
1. The Fed Cup is the female equivalent of the Davis Cup. First mooted as a concept in 1919 by the American player, Hazel Wightman, it was 44 years before another female player, Mary Hardwick Hare, made an overwhelming case for the event to the ITF, which was finally persuaded.
2. At the first Fed Cup in 1963, teams had to pay their own expenses and there was no prize money.
3.. The United States is the most successful Fed Cup nation, winning the event 18 times.
4. In 2017, tennis veteran and Romanian captain, Ille Nastase, had an acrimonious and abusive meltdown, calling members of the British team “f***ing bitches”. He was banned from the event for 3 years.
5. In the same year, the USTA had to apolgoise when a version of the German national anthem associated with the Nazis was used before a Fed Cup tie in Haiwaii. German team member Andrea Petkovic said “It was the worst experience that has ever happened to me.”
6. Gill Butterfield is the oldest player to have taken part in the Fed Cup, playing for Bermuda in 1962, at the age of 52. Denise Panagopoulou of Greece holds the record for the youngest, playing in 977 aged 12.
7. Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Conchita Martinez, who lead Spain to ten Fed Cup Finals, top the list for the most singles wins in the Fed Cup, and the list for the most wins a doubles pair.
8. Earlier this year, Martina Navratilova accused the ITF of treating the Fed Cup as an ‘aferthought'. “Clearly we don’t have [gender equality] at the moment because the ITF changed the format of the Davis Cup and never gave the women a second thought. We are an afterthought. I’m not happy about that”.
9. The ITF will make changes to the Fed Cup for 2020. It has been discussing formats with nations and players to increase the size of the Fed Cup World Group to 16 nations and might even combine the event with the Davis Cup.
10. Great Britain has yet to win the Fed Cup. Could this be our year?
There are still day tickets for 21 April. Click here for details. Tickets for 20 April and weekend tickets for both days are now sold out.
BT Sport 3 will provide comprehensive live coverage of the tie. Clare Balding will front BT Sport’s coverage, with analysis provided by former British no. 1 players Annabel Croft and Laura Robson, with David Law also part of the commentary team. All matches will also be streamed live on the LTA’s Facebook page.