WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., January 24, 2012 — The USTA and U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez announced today that 13-time Grand Slam Champion Serena Williams will be joined by her sister Venus Williams, Christina McHale, and world No. 1 doubles player Liezel Huber in representing the U.S. against Belarus in the 2012 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II First Round at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass., February 4-5.Â Sloane Stephens will also come to Worcester to train with the team.
Current world No. 3 Victoria Azarenka is expected to lead the Belarusian team.Â Azarenka will face defending champion Kim Clijsters in the Australian Open semifinals and could take over the world No. 1 ranking this week.
The best-of-five match series begins on Saturday, February 4, with two singles matches and is followed by two reverse singles matches and the doubles match on Sunday, February 5.Â Tennis Channel will present daily coverage beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET on Saturday and 12:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.
The match will mark the first-ever matchup between the U.S. and Belarus in Fed Cup competition.Â The winner of this match will advance to the World Group Playoff and play for a chance to compete for the Fed Cup title in 2013.Â The loser will compete in the World Group II Playoff and will either maintain its status in World Group II for the following year or be relegated to zonal competition.
â€œI am looking forward to having Serena and Venus on the team for the first time since I became U.S. Fed Cup captain. Â They bring so much to this team, not only for what they can do on court, but the influence they will have on Christina and the rest of the team,â€ said U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez.â€ Victoria is playing the best tennis I have seen from her, so we are excited to be facing Belarus in our first match in the United States in two years.â€
Serena Williams, 30, will make her first appearance in Fed Cup since 2007 and is undefeated in her Fed Cup career.Â She captured her 13th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2010, and then returned from a year-long injury hiatus to reach the final at the 2011 US Open.Â She has also partnered with sister Venus to win 12 Grand Slam doubles titles, and has been ranked No. 1 in the world in both singles and doubles.Â Williams is 4-0 in Fed Cup singles play, and helped the U.S. capture the 1999 Fed Cup title.Â She and Venus also won the Olympic gold medal in womenâ€™s doubles in 2000 and 2008.
McHale, 19, will be making her second consecutive appearance on the U.S. Fed Cup team and third overall.Â McHale had a career year in 2011, defeating world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki at the US Open Series event in Cincinnati and then upsetting Marion Bartoli en route to the third round at the US Open.Â She is coming off a third round appearance at the 2012 Australian Open and is currently a career-high No. 42 in the world.Â McHale trained full-time at the USTA Training Center Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., from 2007-10, and currently trains at the USTA Training Center-East at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.
Venus Williams, 31, will be making her first appearance in sanctioned competition since the 2011 US Open when she revealed she had been diagnosed with Sjogrenâ€™s Syndrome. She holds a 17-4 overall record in Fed Cup competition (14-2 in singles) and was a member of the title-winning team in 1999. She is a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion. She ranked No. 1 in both singles and doubles, and in addition to two Olympic gold medals in doubles with Serena in 2000 and 2008, Venus captured the singles gold medal in 2000.
Huber, 35, has won six of her eight career matches for the U.S. Fed Cup team, including tie-clinching semifinal matches in both 2009 and 2010 with partner Mattek-Sands.Â Currently the top-ranked doubles player in the world, Huber owns five Grand Slam womenâ€™s doubles titles, including the 2011 US Open title, and won the 2010 US Open mixed doubles title with Bob Bryan. Born in South Africa, Huber spent four years on the South African Fed Cup team (1998-00, â€™03) where she posted a 9-3 overall record (9-2 doubles) in 12 ties.Â She became a U.S. citizen on July 25, 2007, with the hopes of playing for the U.S. at the 2008 Olympic Games (where she teamed with Lindsay Davenport to reach the doubles quarterfinals).Â Huber and Martina Navratilova are the only players in Fed Cup history to have represented another nation before playing for the U.S.
Fed Cup by BNP Paribas is the worldâ€™s largest annual international womenâ€™s team competition with 90 countries competing in 2011.Â The United States leads all nations with 17 Fed Cup titles, the last coming in 2000.Â For more information, including access to player and historical Fed Cup records, please go to www.usta.com/fedcup.
The USTA is the national governing body for the sport of tennis in the U.S. and the leader in promoting and developing the growth of tennis at every level — from local communities to the highest level of the professional game.Â A not-for-profit organization with more than 750,000 members, it invests 100% of its proceeds in growing the game.Â It owns and operates the US Open, the highest attended annual sporting event in the world, and launched the Olympus US Open Series linking 10 summer tournaments to the US Open. In addition, it owns the 90-plus Pro Circuit events throughout the U.S, and selects the teams for the Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Olympic and Paralympic Games.Â The USTA philanthropic entity, USTA Serves, provides grants and scholarships and helps underserved youth and people with disabilities. For more information on the USTA, log on to usta.com, â€œlikeâ€ the official Facebook page facebook.com/usta or follow @usta on Twitter.