Anne Keothavong has joined the loud chorus of prominent figures critical of last week’s WTA Finals in Mexico. Great Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup captain expressed sympathy towards the players competing at the event in Cancún and the difficult conditions they were forced to play in throughout the week.
Keothavong stated that the majority of people observing tennis from a distance would likely be puzzled by the situation. She empathized with the players, as the WTA season-ending championships are meant to be the pinnacle of the year for the top eight singles and doubles players. However, they had to face challenging conditions and circumstances.
“I believe that Steve Simon, the WTA’s chief executive, has taken responsibility and acknowledged that the treatment of the players was not satisfactory. I hope that the WTA can work towards finding a solution to prevent a repeat of this situation.”
Keothavong made a statement prior to the Billie Jean King Cup playoffs match against Sweden. The match will be held at the Copper Box arena in London, providing more comfortable indoor conditions. The home team aims to maintain their position as the top competitor for another year.
This match symbolizes a significant achievement for Great Britain, coming full circle four years after their victory over Kazakhstan in a lively Copper Box arena, which secured their promotion from the zonal groups. They had been stuck in these groups for 26 years prior.
In April 2019, the tie was a crucial point in Katie Boulter’s professional journey. Despite a stress fracture in her back, she performed exceptionally well alongside Johanna Konta. However, this injury caused her to take a break from competing for seven months and dropped her ranking from the top 85 to outside the top 350. It wasn’t until this year that Boulter was able to make a comeback to the top 100.
“I understand both the advantages and disadvantages of that tie,” she stated. “I truly do. And I gained valuable lessons from the experience, but I wouldn’t alter it for anything. It has come full circle for me. I am grateful to be back here and I don’t think I would be where I am today if it weren’t for that tie.”
Reworded: On the weekend, Great Britain is expected to have a strong advantage and anything other than a win would be a significant surprise. Boulter, who is currently ranked No 58 and reached the top 50 for the first time in September, will be the team’s leader.
Jodie Burrage, who achieved a top 100 ranking this summer and is currently ranked No 93, will be participating in her first Billie Jean King Cup for Great Britain as their second-ranked player. Heather Watson and Harriet Dart make up the doubles team for Great Britain. Emma Raducanu, on the other hand, is recuperating from an injury at the National Tennis Centre after having surgery on her hands and ankle in April.
Britain will be up against a weakened Sweden squad, as their top two players, world No. 103 Rebecca Peterson and No. 163 Mirjam Björklund, have been sidelined due to injuries sustained at the US Open. In their place, Sweden’s first player, Kajsa Rinaldo Persson (ranked No. 372), will face off against Burrage in the opening match on Saturday, while No. 532 Caijsa Hennemann will take on Boulter.
In spite of his previous injury concerns, Jack Draper is currently excelling on the tennis court. He recently achieved a career milestone by making it to the finals of an ATP tournament for the first time. In the semi-finals of the Sofia Open, he defeated Jan-Lennard Struff with a score of 6-3, 6-4. At just 21 years old, Draper is now the youngest British male to reach an ATP final since Andy Murray did so in Miami in 2009.