Fed Cup by BNP Paribas is the world's largest annual international team competition in women's sport with 90 nations entering in 2012.
The prestigious ITF event, which sits alongside Davis Cup by BNP Paribas in the men's game, gives players the chance to represent their country in an otherwise individual sport.
The competition was launched as the Federation Cup in 1963 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the ITF. An American team led by Billie Jean King won the inaugural title at The Queen's Club in London, and the event has continued to attract the best players in the women's game.
Among the all-time greats to represent their nation are Margaret Court, Virginia Wade, Evonne Goolagong, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Hana Mandlikova, Steffi Graf, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles, Martina Hingis, Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin, Maria Sharapova, and Venus and Serena Williams.
The event title was shortened to Fed Cup in 1994 and the following year the format of the competition changed. The week-long finals were terminated in favour of a World Group and World Group II, and ties started being played on a home-and-away basis.
This system is still used today with eight nations contesting a World Group knock-out draw over three weekends during the year to decide who is crowned champion. The next eight nations compete in World Group II and the remaining nations are split into three regional Zones, with promotion and relegation up for grabs on an annual basis between all Groups.
BNP Paribas became Fed Cup's first Title Sponsor in 2005, mirroring the company's support of Davis Cup. The partnership started with a bang when France and Russia contested a classic Final in front of a packed Philippe Chatrier Court at Roland Garros. The other current partners are Adecco, Bosco Sport and Wilson.
Czech Republic successfully defended the Fed Cup trophy in 2012 after defeating first-time finalists Serbia 3-1 at the O2 Arena in Prague. Lucie Safarova was the star of the show, winning both her singles rubbers, including the deciding point against Jelena Jankovic, to give the hosts their seventh victory overall.
With 17 Fed Cup titles to their name, USA are the most successful nation in the competition. Australia are second with seven wins, then Czech Republic third with six and Spain fourth with five.
For more information about Fed Cup by BNP Paribas, including drawsheets, results, news and photos, visit the competition's official website.
World Group first round 9-10 February
- Czech Republic 4-0 Australia, Ostrava
- Italy 3-2 USA, Rimini
- Russia 3-2 Japan, Moscow
- Serbia 2-3 Slovak Republic, Nis
World Group II first round 9-10 February
- Switzerland 4-1 Belgium, Bern
- Argentina 2-3 Sweden, Buenos Aires
- Spain 3-1 Ukraine, Alicante
- France 1-3 Germany, Limoges
World Group semifinals 20-21 April
- Italy 3-1 Czech Republic, Palermo
- Russia 3-2 Slovak Republic, Moscow
World Group play-offs 20-21 April
- Germany 3-2 Serbia, Stuttgart
- Australia 3-1 Switzerland, Chiasso
- Spain 4-0 Japan, Barcelona
- USA 3-2 Sweden, Delray Beach
World Group II play-offs 20-21 April
- Belgium 1-4 Poland, Koksijde
- France 4-1 Kazakhstan, Besancon
- Argentina 3-1 Great Britain, Buenos Aires
- Ukraine 2-3 Canada, Kiev
World Group Final 2-3 November
- Italy v Russia, tbc
2012 Dates / Results
World Group first round 4-5 February
- Russia 3-2 Spain, Moscow
- Belgium 2-3 Serbia, Charleroi
- Italy 3-2 Ukraine, Biella
- Germany 1-4 Czech Republic, Stuttgart
World Group II first round 4-5 February
- USA 5-0 Belarus, Worcester MA
- Japan 5-0 Slovenia, Hyogo
- Slovak Republic 3-2 France, Bratislava
- Switzerland 1-4 Australia, Granges-Paccot
World Group semifinals 21-22 April
- Russia 2-3 Serbia, Moscow
- Czech Republic 4-1 Italy, Ostrava
World Group play-offs 21-22 April
- Ukraine 0-5 USA, Kharkiv
- Japan 4-1 Belgium, Tokyo
- Spain 2-3 Slovak Republic, Marbella
- Germany 2-3 Australia, Stuttgart
World Group II play-offs 21-22 April
- France 5-0 Slovenia, Besancon
- Switzerland 4-1 Belarus, Yverdon-les-Bains
- Sweden 4-1 Great Britain, Boras
- Argentina 4-1 China, P.R., Buenos Aires
World Group Final 3-4 November
- Czech Republic v Serbia, Prague