From the USTA: WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., April 10, 2013 — The USTA and U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez announced today that world No. 1 and 15-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams will be joined by her sister and world No. 22 Venus Williams, world No. 16 Sloane Stephens, and world No. 27 Varvara Lepchenko in representing the U.S. against Sweden in the 2013 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Playoff at the Delray Beach Tennis Center in Delray Beach, Fla., April 20-21.
The winner of this match will advance to the 2014 World Group and have a chance to compete for the Fed Cup title next year. The losing team will be relegated to World Group II in 2014.
Sweden announced yesterday that their team will consist of world No. 54 Sofia Arvidsson, world No. 65 Johanna Larsson, world No. 425 Hilda Melander, and world No. 489 Sandra Roma.
“I am really excited about the team that we have for this World Group Playoff,” said U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez. “With all four women ranked in the Top 30 and Serena playing as the No. 1 player in the world, we have great talent and depth, which is a perfect combination. We are looking forward to bringing some great tennis to Delray Beach, a city that has a strong history of supporting Fed Cup, and we know we can count on the crowd to give us that home-court edge.”
Tickets can be purchased as two-day packages or as individual sessions. Prices for the two-day packages are $70 and $120. Prices for individual sessions are $40 and $65. Additional ticket fees apply. Tickets can be purchased via www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 888-334-USTA (8782).
The best-of-five match series begins on Saturday, April 20, with two singles matches and is followed by two reverse singles matches and the doubles match on Sunday, April 21. Tennis Channel will present live daily coverage beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET on Saturday and 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.
The World Group Playoff will mark the fifth matchup between the U.S. and Sweden in Fed Cup competition with the U.S. leading the series, 3-1. The United States last played at home in Fed Cup competition during the 2012 World Group II First Round in Worcester, Mass., where the U.S. swept Belarus, 5-0, by a team that included both Serena and Venus Williams. The U.S. is 36-4 all-time in Fed Cup ties played at home.
This will be the fourth Fed Cup tie played in Florida and the third played at the Delray Beach Tennis Center, making it the only venue to host a U.S. Fed Cup tie on three occasions. The U.S. squad has never lost a match in its three previous trips to Florida, posting 5-0 sweeps over Austria in the 1995 World Group quarterfinal in Aventura, and against Belgium in the 2005 World Group quarterfinal and the 2007 World Group quarterfinal, both in Delray Beach. Local sponsors include the City of Delray Beach, Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency and the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.
World No. 1 Serena Williams, 31, went 4-0 in Fed Cup singles competition last year in the World Group II First Round in Worcester, Mass., and the World Group Playoff in Ukraine to propel the U.S. Fed Cup team back into the World Group this year. Williams captured her 15th Grand Slam title at the 2012 US Open and won the Olympic gold medal in singles and women’s doubles with sister Venus at the 2012 Games in London. With the Olympic singles win, Williams joined Steffi Graf as the only women to complete the Golden Slam—the Olympics and the four Grand Slam events—and is the only person to accomplish the feat in singles and doubles. Williams regained the No. 1 ranking in the world on February 18, 2013, becoming the oldest woman (at age 31) to hold the top spot since the WTA computer rankings were introduced in November 1975. This was Williams’ sixth stint at No. 1 and took place nearly 11 years after she first became the No. 1-ranked tennis player in the world. Williams has also been ranked No. 1 in doubles in her career and holds 21 doubles titles with sister Venus. Williams is 8-0 in Fed Cup singles play and 3-0 in doubles, and helped the U.S. capture the 1999 Fed Cup title.
Stephens, 20, is currently ranked a career-high No. 16 in the world after reaching the semifinals of the 2013 Australian Open, where she defeated Serena Williams in the quarterfinals. At 19 years, 10 months, 3 days old, Stephens was the youngest American to reach a Grand Slam singles semifinal since Williams reached the 2000 Wimbledon semifinals at 18 years, 9 months, 8 days old. Stephens was also the first American woman other than Serena Williams or Venus Williams to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since Lindsay Davenport at Wimbledon in 2005. In 2012, Stephens reached the fourth round at the French Open, the third round at Wimbledon and the third round of the US Open. With her results in 2012, Stephens finished the year at No. 38 in the world, making her the youngest player and the only teenager in the year-end Top 50. She is the daughter of the late New England Patriots running back John Stephens and trains with the USTA Player Development Program at the USTA’s Training Center-West in Carson, Calif. She made her Fed Cup debut in the 2012 World Group Playoff in Ukraine, winning in doubles with Liezel Huber. Stephens has not competed in singles in Fed Cup.
World No. 22 Venus Williams, 32, reentered the Top 20 this year for the first time after revealing that she had been diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome following the 2011 US Open. Last week, Venus faced sister Serena in the semifinals of the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, S.C.—their first meeting since 2009 and 24th overall meeting—with Serena prevailing, 6-1, 6-2. Venus holds an 18-4 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 three Olympic gold medals in doubles with Serena in 2000, 2008, and 2012, Venus captured the singles gold medal in 2000. She has not played singles in Fed Cup since 2007.
Lepchenko, 26, is currently ranked No. 27 in the world and made her Fed Cup debut in the 2013 World Group First Round in Rimini, Italy, February 9-10, where she posted singles victories o world No. 8 Sara Errani and world No. 16 Roberta Vinci. She also teamed with Huber in the fifth-and-decisive doubles match. Lepchenko is currently ranked No. 27 in the world. She peaked at a career-high No. 19 in October 2012 and reached the fourth round of the 2012 French Open—her best result at a Grand Slam event—which qualified her for the U.S. Olympic team. She also reached the third round of both the 2012 Wimbledon Championships and the US Open, losing to defending champion Samantha Stosur in Flushing Meadows. A native of Uzbekistan, Lepchenko has been living in the U.S. since 2001 after receiving political asylum, and she officially changed her nationality in 2007 to play for the U.S. She became an official U.S. citizen in September 2011. Lepchenko trains full-time at the USTA Training Center-East at the home of the US Open in Flushing, N.Y.
Fed Cup by BNP Paribas is the world’s largest annual international women’s team competition with 97 countries entering in 2013. The United States leads all nations with 17 Fed Cup titles, the last coming in 2000. For more information, including access to player and historical Fed Cup records, please go to www.usta.com/fedcup or www.fedcup.com. Wilson is the official ball of the U.S. Fed Cup Team.