London, July 1, 2015: The ITF today announced that Flavia Pennetta has won the latest Fed Cup Heart Award of 2015 after leading Italy to victory over the United States in April’s World Group play-off tie in her home town of Brindisi.
Pennetta, a four-time Fed Cup by BNP Paribas champion, helped Italy retain its place in the World Group after her team came from behind to defeat the United States 3-2. She overcame Christina McHale 61 61 to level the tie, before partnering Sara Errani to a 60 63 victory over Alison Riske and Serena Williams, ending Williams’s unbeaten Fed Cup record. Pennetta has long been a stalwart of the Italian team, playing her first Fed Cup tie in 2003 and boasting a 25-5 overall win-loss record in the competition.
Pennetta will receive a cheque for US$3,000, which will be donated to her chosen charity, Fede Lux, the Italian cancer charity founded in memory of the player Federico Luzzi, who died in 2008 from leukemia.
Pennetta said: “It is an honour to receive the Fed Cup Heart Award. I have always been proud to represent my country, and to have been part of four Fed Cup winning teams with my teammates and friends. I am pleased to donate my cheque to such a worthwhile charity.”
Pennetta was selected for the latest award alongside Victoria Azarenka (BLR), Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) and Alexandra Dulgheru (ROU). All four players competed in the World Group and World Group II play-offs on 18-19 April.
The players were shortlisted by the Heart Award judging panel, consisting of ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti and a mixture of former players and members of the international media. A public vote, which ran on 22-26 June, was held on FedCup.com and FedCup.com/es to decide the winner.
A total of five Heart Awards have already been presented in 2015. Pennetta follows in the footsteps of Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU), Cagla Buyukakcay (TUR), Veronica Cepede Royg (PAR) and Tamarine Tanasugarn (THA), who were honoured earlier this year. The final award will be presented at the 2015 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Final in Prague.
ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Flavia for her outstanding performances for her country throughout her career. She has played a key role in her team’s success, during which she has demonstrated her fighting qualities and a strong team spirit.”
The Fed Cup Heart Award is an ITF initiative that was first presented to USA’s Melanie Oudin at the 2009 Fed Cup Final. It aims to recognise players who have represented their country with distinction, shown exceptional courage on court and demonstrated outstanding commitment to their team.
Fed Cup by BNP Paribas is the World Cup of Tennis. It is the largest annual international team competition in women’s sport, with 99 nations entered in 2015. The event celebrated its 50th birthday in 2013 in the ITF’s centenary year. The title sponsor is BNP Paribas, the Official Bank of Fed Cup. Adecco (Official HR Sponsor) is an international sponsor and beIN SPORTS is the Official Global Media Rights Partner.
World Group semifinals: to be presented at the Final
World Group / World Group II play-offs: Flavia Pennetta (ITA)
World Group / World Group II first round: Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU)
Europe/Africa Zone Group I: Cagla Buyukakcay (TUR)
Americas Zone Group I: Veronica Cepede Royg (PAR)
Asia/Oceania Zone Group I: Tamarine Tanasugarn (THA)
Value of cheques
World Group semifinals winner (x1): $10,000
World Group / World Group II first round winner (x1): $6,000
World Group / World Group II play-offs winner (x1): $3,000
Zone Group I winners (x3): $1,000
Francesco Ricci Bitti (ITA), ITF President
Sabine Appelmans (BEL), former Fed Cup player/captain
Mercedes Paz (ARG), former Fed Cup player
Craig Gabriel (AUS), international journalist
Sandra Harwitt (USA), international journalist
Corinne Dubreuil (FRA), international photographer
Ray Giubilo (ITA), international photographer. —- ITF