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At long last, a leap into the unknown

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Two years after being crowned in Australia, the French women’s tennis team brought their title back from Monday in Prague, but the Fed Cup, scrapped by Covid-19 in 2020, has since changed its name and form.

On November 10, 2019 in Perth, Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic showed France their third Fed Cup title, went out in front of their fans and were almost a public surprise, Australians Ashleigh Barty and Samantha Stosur, 6-4, 6-3.

Since this coronation, the FA Cup has vanished to become the Billie Jean King Cup, in honor of the legendary American player. Les Bleues haven’t really shined in the ring, but they’re hoping to bring back the great vibes, thanks to the female equivalent of the Davis Cup.

Garcia, Perth’s only Holy Blue in Prague, admitted after the Mladenovic deal: “We’re really impatient. It’s been two years, but it seems like it’s more time, because a lot has happened.”

The 74th world, who lived through a singles nightmare in the 2019 final with a 6-0, 6-0 victory, confirmed a defeat against Barty before the apotheosis of the doubles.

In this new format for the women’s tennis competition that brings together the top 12 countries in the world, France will have to take first place in a group that includes Canada, without Bianca Andreescu or Lila Fernandez, and Russia, carried by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, to reach the last four on Friday and possibly the final Saturday.

Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, in Roland-Garros on June 8, 2021 Anne-Christine Bogolat Agence France-Presse / The Archives

Two of the top 10 players

“Obviously it will be something different, three matches in one day, two singles and doubles (…) our last memories of the FA Cup being a final in front of 15,000 spectators and one of the strongest feelings of our lives, we know it will not be,” said captain Julien Benneteau. It will be the same on Monday at 10:30 a.m. against Canada.”

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If they stumbled for results, if this week Caroline Garcia came close with a rebellious knee, Blue insisted on the joy of being together, which wasn’t always the case in the past.

“We have to write a new page in our history. The flame and the extra spirit, we own it from the moment we were reunited. So we want to do well, love each other very much. And others,” insisted Alize Cornet, N.1 French and 60’s in the world.

And even if they lack confidence, anything is possible for these blues.

Because in its first edition, the Billie Jean King Cup was avoided by the women’s tennis leaderboard.

Only two players will be in the top 10 in the world in Prague, including Barbora Krejkova, fourth in the world and crowned in singles and doubles at Roland Garros last June, at the helm of a Czech team that is still formidable in the event (11) tracks).

Czech Barbora Krijkova, at Roland Garros on June 12, 2021
Czech Barbora Krijkova, at Roland Garros on June 12, 2021 Christophe Archambault, AFP/Archives

Even if it was played at home, in excellent conditions welcomed by all participants, Krejcikova made no secret of her lack of enthusiasm for the new formula: “The previous system where the two teams went head to head (in the final) was much better,” she said.