Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova and India's Sania Mirza are among the players whose Fed Cup heroics this year have been honored in a public vote for the competition's Heart Awards, designed to recognize those who have represented their country with distinction, shown exceptional courage on court and demonstrated outstanding commitment to their team.
A total of four Heart Awards have been handed out - one focusing on the Fed Cup Qualifier rounds, and the remaining three on zonal Group I events - with each winner receiving a cheque to donate to the charity of their choice.
Sevastova, who came out ahead of fellow nominees Carla Suárez Navarro, Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Leylah Fernandez to receive the Qualifier award, scored an epic 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-6(4) victory over Serena Williams in February - a win that enabled Latvia to pull back to 2-2, having trailed 0-2, in their tie against the USA, and also snapped the American's unbeaten 14-match winning streak in Fed Cup singles action.
Though the USA would ultimately squeeze out a 3-2 win, it was Sevastova - who was also nominated for a Heart Award in 2019 after helping Latvia ascend to World Group II for the first time since 1994 - who most caught the imagination of almost 17,000 voters. The World No.43 has chose to donate her $3,000 prize to Latvian food bank charity Paedusai Latvijai, and said: "I'm very honoured to be included in the Fed Cup Heart Award this year. It's a great achievement and privilege."
Mirza, along with Estonia's Anett Kontaveit and Mexico's Fernanda Contreras Gomez, received cheques of $2,000 each for their exploits in Asia/Oceania Zone Group I, Europe/Africa Zone Group I and Americas Zone Group I respectively. Former doubles World No.1 Mirza, who returned to the sport this year following maternity leave, is the first Indian to receive a Heart Award; the 33-year-old compiled an unbeaten 3-0 record in the rescheduled event in Dubai in March, including partnering Ankita Raina to defeat Indonesia's Priska Nugroho and Aldila Sutjiadi in the deciding rubber - a victory that sealed India's second-place finish behind China in the group.
"It's an honour to win the Fed Cup Heart Award as the first Indian," said Mirza, who will donate her cheque to the Telangana Chief Minister's Relief Fund to help the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. "I dedicate this award to the entire country and to all my fans and thank everyone for voting for me. I hope to bring more laurels to the country in the future."
In Tallinn in February, World No.22 Kontaveit took advantage of a rare opportunity to show off her skills in front of her home crowd by extending her unbeaten Fed Cup singles streak to seven, including dramatic three-set wins over Camila Giorgi and Elina Svitolina. The latter was Kontaveit's third career Top 5 victory, and took the hosts to within one rubber of qualification for the Fed Cup Play-Offs - an achievement that, on the other side of the world in Santiago, Contreras Gomez would be key to unlocking for the Mexican team.
World No.460 Contreras Gomez won three out of four singles rubbers and three out of four doubles rubbers over the week, including partnering Giuliana Olmos to a narrow 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) triumph over Veronica Cepede Royg and Lara Escauriza in the deciding rubber of the final tie against Paraguay. The 22-year-old, who was honored as much for her animated presence on the sidelines as for her on-court heroics, will donate her cheque to AMANC, the Mexican Association for Aid to Children with Cancer.