Fed Cup renamed after legend King with new sponsors on board
By Jonathan Rest
The Fed Cup, the women's national teams tennis competition, has been renamed the Billie Jean King Cup after the legend of the sport, who founded the Women's Tennis Association, with three major corporations coming on board to provide vital sponsorship revenue in the current financially-stricken climate.
The American, 76, won 39 grand slam titles in singles and doubles competitions, and has been a fierce advocate for gender equality.
The Fed Cup has been revamped and the new-look competition was due to debut in Budapest in April, but was postponed by 12 months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It means the 12-nation tournament will now launch in the Hungarian capital with a new name next year, the Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas.
The multinational bank has put its name to the Fed Cup since 2005, and was contracted until 2021, has now extended that agreement with the ITF.
In addition, US software giant Microsoft becomes the global technology and innovation partner of the Cup, while global steel distributor Magellan Corp becomes a global partner.
Microsoft will provide real-time data insights from the court in Budapest.
The ITF said today that it is the first time that a major global team competition has been named after a woman, "ushering in a new era for the historic tournament and representing a landmark moment for sport."
David Haggerty, president of the ITF, said the federation was "proud to be driving this change."
With corporate purses tightened because of the global pandemic, Haggerty said the renewed commitment of BNP Paribas and the addition to the sponsorship portfolio of Microsoft and Magellan "shows the strength of our women's competition. These sponsors believe in gender equality and our women's product.
"The pandemic has been a challenge for all sports, but this shows that really good products are less affected."
The ITF unveiled the revamped Fed Cup in June 2019, with a three-year hosting contract for Budapest and the Hungarian government taking on full financial responsibility for the event.
The prize money of £12 million ($15.5 million) will be equal to that offered in the men's Davis Cup, which likewise has been revamped and had its first showcase in Madrid last November.
In 2019, BNP Paribas ended its 17-year title sponsorship of the Davis Cup.