Just 2 months after Eva-Asderaki Moore and Marija Cicak created history by being the first all women's team to officiate the men's singles finals at Wimbledon, 4 other women are creating history, ball by ball. For the first time in Fed Cup's long esteemed history, the final will feature an all-women officiating team, consisting of Referee Clare Wood, Chair Umpires Alison Hughes and Louise Azemar-Engzell and Review Official Marijana Veljovic.
The final game of the season features the defending Champions Czech Republic taking on the challengers, Russia, on home ground at Prague on 14th-15th November. The tie is expected to feature big names from women's tennis, including World number four Maria Sharapova, world number five Petra Kvitova, Lucie Safarova, Karolina Pliskova, Veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova and doubles specialist Elena Vesnina. Sharapova, Kvitova and Safarova all qualified for the elite WTA Finals in Singapore, with Kvitova even reaching the final. Despite Russia winning the Fed Cup in 2008 and returning runners up in 2013, this is the first final that Sharapova will be playing in, since earlier she chose not to compete after a imbroglio with her former teammates and the Russian tennis association.
Wood, who is the Assistant Referee at The Championships, Wimbledon, and Serbia’s Veljovic, are set for their first officiating roles, whereas Britain's Hughes will be officiating a whopping 12th Fed Cup final when November approaches. This will be Sweden’s Azemar-Engzell's second final, after she presided over Italy's win over Russia in 2013. Both Chair Umpires are members of the ITF/Grand Slam Officiating team, with Veljovic set to become a member from 2016 onwards.
The 10,850 capacity O2 Arena in Prague is scheduled to host this star-studded tie, with the Czech Republic looking for their fourth crown in five years, and Russia looking for their fifth title ever, and first since 2008. The two sides have met five times in the history of Fed Cup but three of those meetings were as Czechoslovakia and the USSR. The Czechs lead the series between the two nations 3-2, including a victory in the most recent encounter at the 2011 Final in Moscow. The Czechs, who are the defending champions and the second most successful Fed Cup nation, have won 14 consecutive live rubbers and five straight ties coming into this year's final. Four-time champion Russia is appearing in its 11th Fed Cup Final overall.