03/08/2018 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/08/2018 08:38
Fed Cup was first launched in 1963 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the International Tennis Federation. It is now the world's largest annual international team competition in women's sport, with 99 nations taking part in 2018.
In the competition's inaugural year, teams from 16 countries gathered together at Queen's Club, London, and the first final between Australia and USA set the tone with Grand Slam champions Darlene Hard, Billie Jean King, Margaret Court and Lesley Turner all proudly representing their country on court.
Sponsorship from the likes of Colgate Group and NEC later enabled the number of nations competing to expand dramatically, while the support of today's title sponsor BNP Paribas continues to promote growth for Fed Cup.
The rise in entries led to the creation of regional qualifying competitions in 1992, and, having seen the great success that the home-and-away format had achieved in Davis Cup, the format for Fed Cup was changed in 1995 so that women, as well as men, could play for their country on home soil.
The current format, introduced in 2005, incorporates an eight-nation World Group and eight-nation World Group II, playing both home-and-away over three weekends throughout the year.
The remaining nations are divided into three regional zones depending on their location. Promotion and relegation are played for each year, while the countries in the World Group compete to be crowned champion.
Fed Cup celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 and it is a fitting tribute to this historic competition that the majority of the world's Top 20 players continue to make themselves available to represent their country.
In total, over 3,000 players have represented their nation in Fed Cup. Arantxa Sanchez Vicario holds the record for most wins in the competition with 72, followed closely by compatriot Conchita Martinez and Great Britain's Virginia Wade, who both have 68 wins. Luxembourg's Anne Kremer has played the most ties, representing her nation on 74 occasions.
Margaret Court and Martina Navratilova have unbeaten records in Fed Cup singles rubbers, with both players winning 20 matches, the best unbeaten records in the competition. Serena Williams is not far behind, having won all 13 of her singles rubbers.
Chris Evert was undefeated in 29 singles matches from her debut against Austria in the first round in 1977, until losing to Italy's Sandra Cecchini in the opening rubber of the 1986 Fed Cup quarterfinal. Evert only lost two of the 42 Fed Cup singles matches she played.
USA is the most successful nation in Fed Cup history, having clinched the title for an 18th time last year. Czech Republic sits in second place with ten wins, including five titles in the last seven years.