Emma Raducanu set to make GB debut in Billie Jean King Cup to become Colour Holder 317
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Emma Raducanu is set to make her debut in the Billie Jean King Cup against the Czech Republic in Prague tomorrow (Friday), joining an exclusive club of ‘Colour Holders’ in becoming the 317th player in history to have represented Great Britain at tennis.
Great Britain and the Czech Republic are two of 16 teams playing this month in knock-out ties to earn a place in November’s 2022 Billie Jean King Cup Finals. They will face off against one another in a best-of-five matches format over two days, with four singles contests and a doubles match.
World No.12 Raducanu has been selected alongside British No.2 Harriet Dart to play the opening singles matches on Friday by GB Billie Jean King Cup Captain, Anne Keothavong. Dart, ranked world No.101, will open the action against world No.32 Marketa Vondrousova, with Raducanu then taking on the Czech’s world No.50 Tereza Martincova. Saturday’s reverse singles will see the players swap opponents, with the potential of a deciding doubles match to follow.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference in Prague, Emma Raducanu said: “The courts are really nice and it will be nice to see some supporters out there. We’ll be giving it our all and are looking forward to the tie tomorrow. We’ve been here a couple of days, bonding as a team with the support staff and getting used to the clay. We have a tough challenge ahead of us but no matter what, we put the work in, and we can be proud of how we’ve prepared”.
Great Britain Billie Jean King Cup Captain Anne Keothavong, said: “This is a young team, and I hope these players are part of this Billie Jean King Cup team for years to come. At the start of the week it was important to get all the players on court together and various games and ways that players will remember from tennis camps as professional players they are still happy to take part in on court. It’s nice to have that time together, we have some serious banter and some lighthearted banter that we don’t usually often get that time together as a team at tournaments, that’s what makes weeks like this different”.
The Billie Jean King Cup, renamed in 2020 in honour of the iconic trailblazer who helped tennis continue to lead the way for women’s sport, is the premier international team competition in women's tennis, and billed as the ‘world cup of women’s tennis’.
We hope the event will play a part in further building the visibility of women’s tennis, and women’s sport more generally. Matches get underway from 11am (BST) on Friday, and 10:30am (BST) on Saturday, with coverage across our LTA channels and on BBC Sport digital channels. To boost visibility further and reach as wide an audience as possible, we are once again streaming live coverage of the tie on the LTA TikTok account, with the entertainment platform making the our live stream available to view through the app’s ‘Discover’ page.
Great Britain vs Czech Republic
When: Friday 15 April (11am BST) to Saturday 16 April (10:30am BST)
Where: Tennis Club I.CLTK in Prague
How to watch: Live on the LTA TikTok and across BBC digital channels
When she steps out on court to face Martincova, Raducanu will join an exclusive list of just 317 names to have represented the nation at tennis, including the likes of Virginia Wade, Andy Murray and Alfie Hewett. Meanwhile Dart, who made her debut in 2019 to become Colour Holder 309, will be playing in her fourth tie. The remaining members of the Great Britain squad are Katie Swan (Colour Holder 301), and 20-year-old Sonay Kartal, who has been called up for the first time to be part of the GB team.
The LTA unveiled the new ‘Colour Holders’ programme at the end of last year, with it designed to acknowledge and celebrate the women, men and wheelchair tennis players who have represented the nation at tennis. Historically, players would receive a ‘Colour’ (indicated by a unique shield) when they played tennis for Great Britain, the equivalent of receiving a cap in football or rugby.
A player becomes an LTA Colour Holder when they first step on court to represent Great Britain in one of the Davis Cup, Billie Jean King Cup, Wheelchair Tennis World Team Cup or the Olympics and Paralympic Games.
As part of the re-introduction of the programme and following the collation of historical records, the LTA produced a sequential list of all players to have ever represented Great Britain at tennis since the very first ones at the 1896 Olympics, with each player allocated their own personal Colour Holder number to reflect their place on the list – with Emma Raducanu becoming number 317. Should she play as scheduled she will become the 136th women to become a Colour Holder, with the first having been Charlotte Cooper (nee Sterry) who was the first female athlete in any sport to win Olympic gold in an individual event when she claimed the women’s singles tennis title at the 1900 Paris Olympics. .
The next opportunity for players to join the Colour Holders list will be the wheelchair tennis World Team Cup in Portugal in May, followed by the group stages of the Davis Cup Finals in the Autumn, with the LTA staging this in Glasgow after successfully winning a bid to host the event.
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