MELBOURNE, Australia – Serena Williams will make her official return to tennis playing for her country.
The USTA announced Tuesday that Serena, sister Venus and Coco Vandeweghe are the first three nominees for the USA’s World Group I first-round tie against the Netherlands.
Asheville, NC, not too far from the sisters’ homes in Florida, will host the tie.
Their participation will undoubtedly give the event a boost even if the US team, minus the sisters, are the reigning Fed Cup champions after defeating Belarus in the final last November. And according to the venue’s ticketing website, it appears the 5,000 or seats for the two day event Feb. 10 and 11 are already gone.
So the Williams sisters are just value added.
For them, it has the added bonus of counting towards their eligibility for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, without having to compromise their tournament schedule or involve much additional travel.
Vandeweghe was the top gun during the successful 2017 campaign. The USTA will name the fourth member of the squad at a later date.
She’s finally back
Serena Williams hasn’t played an official match since winning last year’s Australian Open while two months’ pregnant. She returned exhibition in Abu Dhabi a few weeks ago against Jelena Ostapenko, but chose not to come to Australia for the first Grand Slam of the season while she continued to get match-fit after some tough postpartum health issues.
She has played relatively little for the US during her long career. Serena has played Fed Cup only in six seasons: 1999, 2003, 2007, 2012, 2013 and 2015 (the first three came the year before an Olympic year).
Her last matches were nearly three years ago in Brindisi, Italy, a playoff tie to earn a promotion for the U.S. into World Group I.
Williams won both her rubbers against Camila Giorgi and Sara Errani. But Lauren Davis and then Christina McHale were unable to win the third, deciding singles rubber. And even Williams’ participation in the deciding doubles with Alison Riske wasn’t enough; they lost to Sara Errani and Flavia Pennetta, and won just three games.
This will be the 10th year Venus Williams has played Fed Cup. But it will be her first tie since a quarterfinal round two years ago in Hawaii, right after the 2016 Australian Open. The U.S. easily defeated a Polish team that was without Agnieszka Radwanska on that occasion.
The Netherlands are led by Kiki Bertens, who was the No. 30 seed at the Australian Open and lost to No. 2 seed Caroline Wozniacki in the third round.