SERENA WILLIAMS LEADS U.S. FED CUP AGAINST LATVIA
THIS WEEKEND ON TENNIS CHANNEL
Legendary Champion Joins Australian Open Singles Winner Sofia Kenin, Alison Riske, Coco Gauff and Former World No. 1 Doubles Star Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Japan Faces Spain, Canada Takes on Switzerland in Other Qualifying Action
|LOS ANGELES, Feb.6, 2020 -Twenty-three-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams will return to Fed Cup competition for the first time since 2018, as she leads the U.S. team Feb. 7-8 on Tennis Channel. The network will provide exclusive live coverage of the Americans’ qualifying round against Latvia in Everett, Wash.,this weekend, with telecasts beginning Friday, Feb. 7, at 10:30 p.m. ET. Williams will join Australian Open singles winner Sofia Kenin, Alison Riske, Coco Gauff and former World No. 1 doubles player Bethanie Mattek-Sands as they fight to reach the Fed Cup finals April 14-19 in Budapest, Hungary.
The battle between 2018 Fed Cup-finalist United States and Latvia will consist of two singles matches on Friday, Feb. 7, and two singles matches and a doubles match Saturday, Feb. 8. The winner of this weekend’s matchup will move on to the new-look finals, similar to the Davis Cup, where 12 nations compete at one venue for the title (complete schedule below).
Williams made her competitive return to tennis in February 2018 after winning her record Open Era 23rd Grand Slam singles title at the 2017 Australian Open and giving birth to her first child. She has twice won four consecutive Grand Slams in a row to complete two “Serena Slams” (2002-03 and 2014-15) and remains one title shy of tying Margaret Court’s career major singles title record.
Williams and her older sister Venus helped the U.S. Fed Cup team win the championship in 1999. The United States, which leads all nations in Fed Cup titles, clinched its record 18th Fed Cup title in 2017.
Prior to the United States-Latvia telecast, Tennis Channel and subscription-service Tennis Channel Plus will show the other two Fed Cup qualifying round competitions. Beginning Friday, Feb.7, at 6 a.m. ET, viewers can watch Spain play Japan in Murcia, Spain. Canada will face Switzerland in Biel, Switzerland, beginning, Friday, Feb. 7, at 8 a.m. ET. Other stars set to play Fed Cup this weekend include two-time Grand Slam singles champion Naomi Osaka, US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard, US Open semifinalist Belinda Bencic and Spanish star Carla Suarez Navarro.
Fans can also catch Fed Cup qualifying matches on demand on Tennis Channel Plus. Erin Coscarelli (@erincoscarelli) will host Tennis Channel’s U.S. Fed Cup coverage this weekend, with commentators Ravi Ubha (@raviubha) and Naomi Cavaday (@naomicavaday).
Tennis Channel’s live Fed Cup coverage is as follows (all times ET):
Friday, Feb. 7:
6 a.m. -Singles #1 Spain v. Japan (followed by Singles #2)
8 a.m. -Singles #1 Canada v. Switzerland (followed by Singles #2)
10:30 p.m. – Singles #1 USA v. Latvia (followed by Singles #2)
Saturday, Feb. 8:
5 a.m. -Singles #3 Spain v. Japan (followed by Singles #4 and Doubles)
7 a.m. – Singles #3 Canada v. Switzerland (followed by Singles #4 and Doubles)
6:30 p.m. -Singles #3 USA v. Latvia (followed by Singles #4 and Doubles)
The United States and Latvia have never met in Fed Cup play. The Americans must defeat Latvia in order to compete in the finals for a chance to win the Fed Cup title this year.
The U.S. Fed Cup team is captained by retired American tennis star Kathy Rinaldi, who in 2017 led the Americans to their first Fed Cup title since 2000. Williams, who recently suffered a third-round loss at the Australian Open, captured her first singles title in three years at last month’s ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand. She also holds four Olympic gold medals, including one in singles and three in doubles with her sister Venus.
Kenin enters this weekend’s contest after defeating two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza at the Australian Open to become the youngest American woman to win a major since Serena Williams in 2002. In October, Kenin earned her second WTA doubles title alongside Fed Cup teammate Mattek-Sands at the China Open in Beijing. A member of the 2017 U.S. Fed Cup championship team, Riske overcame French Open champion Ashleigh Barty to reach the quarterfinals at last year’s Wimbledon but fell to the World No. 1 Barty in the fourth round at the Australian Open.
Gauff, 15, had an impressive run at this year’s Australian Open with victories over Venus Williams and reigning Australian Open singles champion Osaka, before falling to Kenin in the fourth round. Mattek-Sands holds five doubles and four mixed-doubles Grand Slam titles, and partnered with Jamie Murray to advance to the mixed-doubles final at the Australian Open. In 2016 she won a gold medal in mixed doubles with Jack Sock at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Latvia is captained by Adrians Zgunsand features 2017 French Open singles champion Jelena Ostapenko, Anastasija Sevastova, Diana Marcinkevica and Daniela Vismane.