From the USTA: WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., January 28, 2015 — The USTA and United States Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez today announced that world No. 1 and 18-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams, former world No. 1 and world No. 18 Venus Williams, No. 30 Varvara Lepchenko and No. 35 and 2015 Australian Open semifinalist Madison Keys will represent the U.S. in the 2015 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II First Round against Argentina. The best-of-five match series will be played at the Pilara Tennis Club in Buenos Aires, Feb. 7-8. Former world junior No. 1 Taylor Townsend will also be joining the team in Argentina as a fifth member of the team and practice partner.
The winner of this match advances to the World Group Playoff, held April 18-19, to compete for a spot in the 2016 World Group. The losing nation will play in the World Group II Playoff in April to remain in World Group II in 2016. The U.S. will compete in World Group II in 2015 for just the second time since the World Group format was instituted in 1995. (The U.S. also competed in the World Group II in 2012; it has competed in the World Group all other years.)
Argentina Fed Cup Captain Maria-Jose Gaidano named world No. 124 Paula Ormaechea, No. 198 Maria Irigoyen, No. 394 Nadia Podoroska and No. 551 Tatiana Bua to the Argentina team.
“We have an incredible amount of talent on this Fed Cup team, with three Australian Open quarterfinalists and four Top 40 players,” said Fernandez. “We are thrilled to be led by Serena, one of the greatest players of all time, as well as Venus, who is playing at the top of her game. I am so proud of Madison and her results in Australia and happy to have her on the team, as well as Varvara, who performs well in Fed Cup and has had a strong start to the year. I have full confidence in this team to play some great tennis in Argentina and help us get one step closer to earning our way back into the World Group next year.”
Matches begin on Saturday, Feb. 7, with two singles matches featuring each country’s No. 1 player against the other country’s No. 2 player. Sunday’s schedule features two “reverse singles” matches, when the No. 1 players square off, then the No. 2 players meet, followed by a doubles match. Play on Saturday and Sunday begins at 11 a.m. local time (9 a.m. ET). Tennis Channel will present daily coverage.
The United States holds a 3-1 record over Argentina in Fed Cup. The U.S. last faced Argentina in the 2009 World Group Quarterfinal in Surprise, Ariz., where the U.S. won, 3-2, in a fifth-and-decisive doubles rubber won by Julie Ditty and Liezel Huber. The U.S.’s only loss to Argentina came in 1993 in the World Group Quarterfinal in Germany. The two nations also faced each other in 1985 (in Japan) and in 1964 (in Philadelphia). The U.S. has never played Fed Cup in the country of Argentina; all other matches were either at home or on neutral ground. The U.S. is 8-11 in away ties since the World Group format was in instituted in 1995 and holds an overall 143-35 record.
World No. 1 Serena Williams, 33, holds a 10-0 singles record and 3-0 doubles record in Fed Cup competition, last playing in the 2013 Fed Cup World Group Playoff against Sweden in Delray Beach, Fla., to propel the U.S. back into the World Group last year. She also helped the U.S. capture the 1999 Fed Cup title. Williams won her 18th Grand Slam title at the 2014 US Open and captured 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 she is the only person to accomplish the feat in both singles and doubles. Williams regained the No. 1 ranking in the world on Feb. 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 won 64 WTA singles titles and has also been ranked No. 1 in doubles in her career. (She holds 21 doubles titles with sister Venus, including 13 Grand Slam women’s doubles titles.) Williams is currently in the semifinals of the Australian Open and will face Madison Keys on Thursday.
World No. 18 Venus Williams, 34, reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal since 2010 at this year’s Australian Open. She re-entered the Top 20 in 2013 for the first time since revealing that she had been diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disorder, following the 2011 US Open. Venus holds a 19-4 overall record in Fed Cup competition (15-2 in singles), last playing in the 2013 Fed Cup World Group Playoff against Sweden in Delray Beach. She was also a member of the title-winning team in 1999. Venus is a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion and has won 46 WTA singles titles. She has been ranked No. 1 in both singles and doubles. In Olympic play, she has won three gold medals in doubles (with Serena) in 2000, 2008 and 2012, and she captured the singles gold medal in 2000. Venus reached the quarterfinals of the 2015 Australian Open—her first Grand Slam quarterfinal since 2010.
Lepchenko, 28, is currently ranked No. 30 in the world. She made her Fed Cup debut in the 2013 World Group First Round in Rimini, Italy, where she posted singles victories over then-world No. 8 Sara Errani and then-world No. 16 Roberta Vinci. Lepchenko was also named to the U.S. Fed Cup team for the 2013 World Group Playoff against Sweden in Delray Beach. 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. In 2014, she reached her first WTA final in Seoul, upsetting top seed Agnieszka Radwanska. This year, Lepchenko reached the semifinals of the Australian Open tune-up event in Brisbane and the third round of the Australian Open. 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 Sept. 2011.
World No. 35 Keys, 19, is named to her third consecutive Fed Cup team after making her debut for the U.S. Fed Cup team last year, competing in the World Group First Round in Cleveland against Italy. (She also played in the World Group Playoff in St. Louis against France.) So far in her career, Keys has gone 1-2 in singles and 1-1 in doubles in Fed Cup. Keys advanced to her first career Grand Slam semifinal at this year’s Australian Open, where she upset No. 4 seed Petra Kvitova and No. 18 seed Venus Williams. Keys peaked at No. 27 in the world last July after winning her first WTA title at the grass-court event in Eastbourne, Great Britain. Also in 2014, she reached the semifinals of the WTA Australian Open tune-up event in Sydney and the French Open tune-up event in Strasbourg. In 2011, shebecame the youngest player to win a main draw match at the US Open since Nicole Vaidisova in 2005. And in 2009, she became the youngest player (14 years, 48 days) since Martina Hingis in 1994 to win a WTA match. Keys is coached by former world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport and her husband, Jon Leach.
The United States leads all nations with 17 Fed Cup titles, the last coming in 2000. Fed Cup by BNP Paribas is the World Cup of Tennis. It is the largest annual international team competition in women’s sport, with 99 nations taking part in 2015. For