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Emma Raducanu will be welcomed back to Great Britain Billie Jean King Cup team ‘with open arms’, says Katie Boulter

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Emma Raducanu will be welcomed back into Great Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup team “with open arms”, according to Katie Boulter.

The former US Open champion will play just her second tie for her country this week in France, two years after making her debut against the Czech Republic.

Injuries have prevented Raducanu being involved in the intervening ties, and she indicated at the Australian Open that she would prioritise her health this year when considering whether to play.

Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers team selection

GB France
Captain: Anne Keothavong Captain: Julien Benneteau
Katie Boulter (WR 28) Caroline Garcia (WR 23)
Harriet Dart (WR 88) Clara Burel (WR 44)
Heather Watson (WR 144) Diane Parry (WR 49)
Fran Jones (WR 277) Kristina Mladenovic (WR 254)
Emma Raducanu (WR 302)

But, with the tie on indoor clay, the same surface as her next WTA tournament in Stuttgart next week, Raducanu will join Boulter, Harriet Dart, Heather Watson and debutant Francesca Jones in Le Portel.

Boulter said: “I’m very pleased. We’ve missed her. We love having her back.

“Obviously the number one thing is that she’s healthy. I’ve always said it for myself and it’s my biggest wish for her as well is that she can stay as healthy as possible. We’re going to be welcoming her with open arms for sure.”

At 302, Raducanu is the lowest-ranked member of Anne Keothavong’s team, with Boulter at 28 and Dart also in the top 100, but it would be a major surprise if she was left on the bench for the tie on Friday and Saturday.

Raducanu won one of her two matches on her debut and showed promise in her first campaign on clay, traditionally the weakest surface for British players, two years ago.

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Raducanu gives a serving masterclass and gives tips and tricks on different types of serves! credit: LTA via X

‘GB completely the underdogs against France’

Keothavong’s side are undoubtedly underdogs, particularly having lost to France at the same stage last year on hard courts in Coventry.

The home side are led by world No 23 Caroline Garcia, who recently defeated Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka on her way to the quarter-finals of the Miami Open, and Boulter said: “It’s a brutal match-up.

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Raducanu hit her signature drop shot to put her ahead against Dayana Yastremska at the Indian Wells

“We’ve already been in this place before and we had it at home. I think if anything it could help us, we are completely the underdogs. I think we’ve got a free swing.

“Garcia is clearly playing some very good tennis right now. But it’s another Billie Jean King Cup tie, anything can happen.

“We’ve got to keep it very realistic, it’s everyone’s first week on clay. It’s not my favourite surface but I’m very excited to get on it. I think we will come together as a team and keep trying to push each other and I’m sure we’ll play some really good tennis.”

Raducanu’s presence represents a boost for Britain compared to last year, as does the rapid rise of Boulter, who at 27 has surged into the top 30 for the first time.

The Leicestershire player lifted her second, and biggest, WTA Tour title at the San Diego Open last month and has won more matches against top-50 opponents in the first three months of 2024 than in the rest of her career combined.

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British No 1 Katie Boulter reveals which five guests she would invite to a dinner party. Listen to the full episode here on the Sky Sports Tennis podcast

“It’s been a little bit of a whirlwind,” said Boulter. “In some aspects I’m surprised, in other aspects I’m not surprised at all, which shows that I’ve really put a lot of work in and I feel like I’m going in the right direction.

“I am very realistic at the same time. Not everything’s going to click every week. I think that’s where, going into the next part of the season [on clay], I’ve got a free swing, because it’s obviously something I’m not used to.

“It’s something fresh and exciting but this last month has been a massive, massive leap for me.”

All you need to know ahead of Britain’s tie in France

The GB Billie Jean King Cup team will take on France for the second consecutive year on Friday and Saturday.

The tie will be played at Le Chaudronin Le Portel, France. The arena, which usually plays host to the ESSM Le Portelbasketball team, has a capacity of 3,400.

The French team have chosen to have an indoor clay court for the tie.

Day one (Friday April 12) will get underway at 1:30pm – with two singles rubbers scheduled.

Day two (Saturday April 13) will start at 12:30pm – with a possible three rubbers, two singles and one doubles.

Head-to-head

The current head-to-head between Great Britain and France stands at 2-2.

The two sides return to face each other for a place in the Billie Jean King Cup Finals for the second year in a row, after France edged a close contest in Coventry last year, 3-1.

The winners of the tie will qualify for the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Seville in November.

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