GLASGOW will roll out the red carpet next month for one of tennis’ all-time greats as well as for one of the game’s rising stars.

The Billie Jean King cup finals – formerly the Federation Cup – will return to Great Britain on November 8 for the first time since 1991, with the Emirates Arena given the honour of hosting duties fresh from doing the same for the men’s Davis Cup. Twelve nations will take part, with GB taking on Kazakhstan and Spain in their own three-team group.

It means a rare chance for Scottish tennis fans to get a glimpse in the flesh of Emma Raducanu, the teenage star who announced herself to the sport in dramatic fashion last year by winning the US Open.

This has been a difficult second year for the 19 year-old who has been plagued with injuries and loss of form, having failed to get beyond the second round in any of the four grand slams.

Amid talk of a wrist complaint shutting down her season, she has instead made herself available to captain Anne Keothavong alongside Harriet Dart, Heather Watson and Katie Boulter, a move that will no doubt delight tennis fans and organisers alike.

“It’s been a difficult year for Emma but despite the injuries and everything else she’ll still finish around 60th in the world,” said Keothavong.

“So for a 19 year-old in your first full season on the WTA tour I’d say that’s still a pretty decent year! We have the benefit of the Billie Jean King cup finals being later in the year so Emma still has time to recover from her injury.

“I’ve not had to talk her into playing in Glasgow at all. She made her debut for the team earlier in the year and this is always something that’s been important to her, representing Great Britain.

HeraldScotland: Anne KeothavongAnne Keothavong (Image: WTA)

“She very much wants to be part of the team and that’s a great example to have from your leading player. It’s just like Andy Murray is on the men’s side, being very passionate for the Davis Cup and wanting to lead the team.

“What Emma achieved last year was a Cinderella run winning the US Open. This year hasn’t gone quite to plan for her but how do you top winning a slam on your debut? But she’s a highly-talented individual and having her in this competition is something special.

“Hopefully lots of kids in the local area will get the opportunity to watch Emma – and all the other top female tennis players too.”

In a statement, Raducanu said she was excited to be a part of it. “Making my debut for team GB in April was a special moment that I’ll never forget,” she said.

“Stepping out on court and seeing all the flags flying, all of your team cheering you on, it’s such a unique event that I’m really looking forward to experiencing again. Having the opportunity to host the finals in your home country doesn’t come around very often so we’ll do everything we can to make our fans proud.”

Keothavong is hoping the home crowd can make the difference after being a spectator at the recent Davis Cup event at the same venue.

She added: “It’s exciting bringing world-class women’s tennis to Glasgow.

“I was here for the Davis Cup and it was very exciting, even if the team didn’t quite get the results that we would have liked.

“But the atmosphere was very special. And hopefully the women’s team will get the same support as the men have had in Glasgow over the years.”

Greatness will also descend in Glasgow in the form of Billie Jean King herself who plans on jetting in to grace the tournament that bears her name. The 78 year-old’s legacy as a pioneer and promoter of social justice and equality ought to make her the most popular figure in town.

“It’s great that she supports a competition like this and is still passionate about tennis,” added Keothavong. “Even among the younger generation of players she’s still a huge role model. I believe she still gets out on the tennis court and can strike a ball with some venom too! But for everything she’s worked and campaigned for, she really is an icon for so many people. And on a personal level I find her so inspirational.”

There is no Scot in the team this time but Keothavong has been encouraged by Maia Lumsden’s comeback from long Covid after the Bearsden player claimed a doubles title victory in Slovakia at the weekend.

“It’s brilliant to see as I know she’s had a tough time of it,” she added. “I remember her at a young age and how good she was so it’s great to see her showing this resilience. And maybe one day she could be pushing for a place in the GB team too. You never know.”

The Billie Jean King Cup Finals take place at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow, from November 8-13. Tickets, from £5 for kids and from £10 for adults, are available via www.billiejeankingcup.lta.org.uk