Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund pursues right to the Billie Jean King Cup
The GIST: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) is scaling up its pursuit of women’s tennis in 2024, first by signing world No. 6 Ons Jabeur as Kayanee’s brand ambassador, and now by pursuing the rights to host the BJK Cup. This adds to Saudi Arabia’s ongoing interest in women’s tennis tournaments like the 2023 and 2024 WTA Finals. Looking for that big breaker.
The tournament: The BJK Cup, formerly known as the Federation Cup, is widely considered the World Cup of women’s tennis, featuring twelve countries battling annually for the title. In 2020, the tournament was renamed to honor tennis icon Billie Jean King, who won seven times as a player and four as a captain.
The context: Saudi Arabia has hosted men’s tennis events including the 2023 ATP Next Gen Finals and exhibition matches with players like Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz, and it is slated to hold the 2027 ATP Finals. But its biggest win so far might be Rafael Nadal’s unexpected decision to become Saudi Arabia’s tennis ambassador yesterday.
- WTA world No. 1 Iga Świątek remains unsure about the advantage of bringing pro women’s tennis to the country, and when asked specifically about Rafa’s decision, said “Obviously men's sport is already there in Saudi. I don't know if it's a good decision or not."
- Billie Jean King has been more open to the idea than Świątek — she said a WTA–Saudi partnership could benefit both entities but is adamant about engaging in talks to spur change, especially considering the nation’s history restricting women and persecuting LGBTQIA+ folks.
Looking ahead: If the BJK Cup does move to Saudi soil, the rest of the women’s tennis world will likely follow as it would aid negotiations to host the WTA Finals and land a 1000-level event. The sport will follow the money, but BJK’s influence could ensure social progress is part of the deal. Change the game, don’t let the game change you.