For the first time in the event’s history, Canada is the Billie Jean King Cup champion. Led by the red-hot Leylah Fernandez and the previously unheralded 18-year-old Marina Stakusic, the Canadians claimed the title on Sunday with a 2-0 victory over Italy.
Fernandez, the 2021 US Open finalist, won all four of her singles matches — including a 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 victory over reigning Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova in the semifinals against the Czech Republic — and a doubles match. And Stakusic, who is currently ranked No. 261 and had never beaten a top-100 player before, recorded three singles wins, all over players ranked in double digits.
“This has been the best week of my life,” Stakusic said, without hyperbole, Sunday during the trophy ceremony.
And if national pride and bragging rights weren’t enough, the Canadian team collected a record-setting $2.4 million check — the same amount that the men’s champions at the upcoming Davis Cup will receive.
Fernandez, who was scheduled to play doubles alongside Gabriela Dabrowski if a third match was needed, clinched the victory on Sunday with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Jasmine Paolini. Fernandez threw her racket in the air and ran over to celebrate with her jubilant teammates, who also included Eugenie Bouchard and Rebecca Marino, as soon as the match ended. The collective reaction really says it all.
— Billie Jean King Cup (@BJKCup) November 12, 2023
“I’m extremely happy, ecstatic,” Fernandez told reporters after the match. “You know, it’s the first time that Canada has ever won the Billie Jean King Cup. I can finally say this: We’re world champions, and we rightfully deserve it.”
Since the Canadian men’s team is the reigning Davis Cup champion — for at least a few more days — it’s definitely a good time for tennis up North.
So pumped for Team Canada winning @BJKCup for the first time!!! WORLD CHAMPIONS!! Congrats to everyone involved
— Denis Shapovalov (@denis_shapo) November 12, 2023
Here’s what else you might have missed from around the tennis world last week:
Collins’ emotional tribute
While the United States team did not advance out of group play at the Billie Jean King Cup, the event marked the final tournament for longtime captain Kathy Rinaldi. The players, event organizers and the USTA made sure to pay tribute to Rinaldi, who remains…