The idea for Fed Cup can be traced back to 1919, when Mrs Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman came up with the concept for a women's team competition.
When this was rejected, she instead presented a trophy in 1923 for an annual contest between USA and Great Britain, who were at that time the strongest tennis-playing nations. Mrs Nell Hopman, wife of the legendary Australian Davis Cup captain Harry Hopman, later took up Wightman's original idea.
USA - 1963 Champions
Played over one week in a different venue each year, the competition attracted teams from 16 countries and was supported by the top players right from the start.
The inaugural event was held 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.
Czechoslovakia - 1985 Champions
That first Federation Cup had attracted entries from 16 nations, a respectable number considering there was no prize money and teams had to meet their own expenses.
Sponsorship from the likes of Colgate Group and NEC later enabled this number to expand dramatically, while the support of today’s title sponsor BNP Paribas continues to promote growth for Fed Cup.
Mary Joe Fernandez (USA)
The rise in entries led to the creation of regional qualifying competitions in 1992 and, subsequently in 1995, Federation Cup adopted a new format and shortened its name to Fed Cup.
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 format has been adjusted several times since 1995
Petra Kvitova (CZE)
The launch of FedCup.com in January 2003 brought a new generation of fans to the competition, with live scoring, detailed match reports and photos showcasing the action from around the world.
Francesca Schiavone (ITA)
The list of players who have competed in the Fed Cup is impressive to say the least. Many of the game’s all-time greats, along with the current crop of talents, have featured in the competition throughout its history.
Players such as Billie-Jean King, Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Virginia Wade, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Conchita Martinez and Martina Hingis all enjoyed successful Fed Cup careers.
More recently, Venus and Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin, Amelie Mauresmo, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Francesca Schiavone and Petra Kvitova have all lifted the trophy.
These players are all the proof, if any was needed, that Wightman, Hopman, Hare and their allies were right… women's tennis demands a truly international stage for players to represent their country, which is what the Fed Cup continues to provide.