Russia Wins Big in Prague, Lifts The Billie Jean King Cup for the Fifth Time Ever

The current champions defeated Switzerland in the Final to cap off an exciting tournament.

By Alexandra Cadet

The 2021 Billie Jean King Cup Finals came to a close last Saturday, and Russia clinched their fifth title. It was expected to be a hard-fought victory for the RTC, since their opponents Switzerland were in the midst of a ridiculously impressive tournament run. However, Russia ended up making quick work of the match, dominating in straight sets. 

Russian Tennis Federation team celebrates with trophy on the podium after winning the Billie Jean King Cup final REUTERS/David W Cerny

This edition of the tournament took place amid a chaotic flurry of postponements and rebranding. Last September, the ITF revealed that the competition––formerly known as “the Fed Cup”––would be renamed after tennis icon Billie Jean King. “I understand this is such a privilege, but I really want to make a difference, too,” King said after being honored. “And of course now I’m racking my brain. How can we move this forward on our goals and our ambitions?” Unfortunately, the imagined progress that King mentioned was put to a stop when the 2020 competition was cancelled and the 2021 tournament was pushed back and reformatted. 

In spite of these obstacles, the 2020-21 Cup was a smashing success. The city of Prague did a respectable job of hosting the competition, and the fact that Switzerland reached the Final for just the second time in its history is absolutely something to be celebrated. The only major drawback was that many stars such as Ash Barty and Karolína Plíšková declined to play for their respective teams, but those absences didn’t necessarily bring down the entertainment value of the tournament.

Canada’s Françoise Abanda during her match against Fiona Ferro of France. (Image courtesy of CBC Sports.)

One interesting aspect of this year’s Cup was the disappointing performances of teams who usually dominate the competition. 2019 winners France were upset by an Andreescu and Fernandez-less Canada in the group stage, while the U.S. narrowly lost to Russia in the semis, ending their hopes of a twelfth Cup win. The latter defeat may not be as embarrassing as the former, but the U.S.’s complete and utter lack of dominance in the group stage paints a more troubling picture of their stint in the tournament.

Though this year’s competition was not exactly fun for the French and American teams, it was certainly enjoyable for fans across the globe. And though the WTA season will soon draw to a close, the excitement isn’t quite over yet: the WTA Finals commenced just a few days ago. 

Hopefully, the Finals will follow in the footsteps of the Billie Jean King Cup and cap off the season in style.

A schedule for the upcoming WTA Finals matches can be found here.

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