FORT WORTH, Texas — Billie Jean King understands why No. 1 Iga Swiatek decided to skip the Billie Jean King Cup Finals because they are just after — and half a world away from — the WTA Finals.
King just imagines that she would have made a different choice.
“I can totally understand her reasoning. I personally wouldn’t agree with that. But you know what? It’s about her. She’s the one having to deal with reality right now; I don’t,” King, owner of 18 Grand Slam singles and twice inductee to the International Tennis Hall of Fame, he said Tuesday during a video conference. “We’re going to miss her.”
Swiatek, a 21-year-old Polish woman with three major trophies, announced last month that she would play the WTA Finals now taking place in Fort Worth, Texas, and skip the International Tennis Federation’s 12-nation team competition named in King’s honor. which will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, from the 8th to the 13th of November.
Complaining that the “situation is not safe for our health and can cause injuries”, she said she was disappointed that the sport’s governing bodies “did not reach an agreement on something as basic as the tournament schedule”.
WTA CEO Steve Simon acknowledged on Tuesday that Swiatek “is not wrong”.
“This is a very difficult schedule and a difficult turnaround,” Simon said. “It’s something we’re already talking about to see how we can fix this in the future.”
Swiatek leads women’s tennis with eight titles and a 64-8 record in 2022. She played her opening match on Tuesday in the WTA Finals.
“I wish she would wait a little longer [to decide about the BJK Cup Finals], because you never know how you’re going to do it. I mean, you just don’t know. And this is where you have to find out for yourself what’s important to you,” King said. “For me, that would be a no-brainer.”
The WTA finals were supposed to be held in Shenzhen, China, but were moved as part of the suspension of all tournaments in that country due to safety concerns for Peng Shuai, the Grand Slam doubles champion who accused a former government official. Chinese sexual assault and COVID-19 restrictions there.
The selection of Fort Worth as a replacement location for this year only was announced in September. Simon said he would have preferred the WTA Finals to end at an earlier date, but the Texas arena had a show scheduled last week that barred access to the venue before Friday for a setup that included installing a temporary court. .
Two members of the US roster for the BJK Cup are in the WTA Finals, Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff.
“We definitely knew [it] it was a difficult turnaround. But I think for me, it’s more just a good problem to have. Of course, it’s not ideal,” said Pegula. “Each person makes their own personal decision when it comes to [what is] physically healthy, mentally wise what they need to do, but hopefully it’s just for this year.”
The other 10 countries in the BJK Cup finals are Australia, Belgium, Great Britain, Canada, Czech Republic, Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain, Slovakia and Switzerland.