The eagerly awaited return of Serena Williams in the Fed Cup should have been one to celebrate. Instead the presence of the former world No.1 has created more questions than answers.
Williams hasn’t played a competitive match on the WTA Tour since winning her 23rd grand slam title at the Australian Open 13 months ago. Since then, she has given birth to her first child in September and married her partner, Alexis Ohanian. During her absence from the tour, Williams’ only taste of competition was an exhibition match against Jelena Ostapenko at the start of the year. Which she lost in three sets.
The scene was set for the 36-year-old to burst back on the scene this weekend when Team USA take on the Netherlands on home soil. However, as it currently stands, Williams will not feature in a singles match. Instead, she will concentrate on the doubles competition alongside Madison Keys.
“Why not Fed Cup? It’s a great opportunity to get, I mean, a new set of eyes on what I’ve been doing with Kathy,” she said about her comeback on Friday.
“Also just hitting with different people, just seeing different balls, seeing lots of different things. I think it actually is a really perfect opportunity to try to come back.”
Under competition rules, she could potentially play a singles match on Sunday if team captain Kathy Rinaldi chooses to. Despite having a triumphant 20-year career in the sport, this week is only Williams’ 10th participation in a Fed Cup tie and her first since 2015.
“There’s been a lot of ups and downs in the practice,” she explains.
“It also gives me another view, it’s almost relaxing for me as I have nothing to prove. Again, just fighting against all odds to be out there again, to be competing again.”
Where is she heading?
Now at the starting line of her comeback to the tour, few know which direction Williams is heading towards. Going into 2018, there was talk that she would begin her comeback at the Australian Open, but she was unable to fully prepare in time. The uncertainty continues with the American, who admits that she is unsure about which grand slam tournaments she will play this year.
“I don’t know. Right now I’m focused on this weekend and after that I’ll figure out what it might be.” She replied when asked about participating in this year’s French Open.
Williams is just two major titles away from becoming the most decorated singles champion – man or woman – in grand slam history.
The vague comments about her future plans comes as no surprise given what she has gone through. Shortly after welcoming the arrival of her first child via c-section, she became ill. Dealing with blood clots on her lungs as well as and her wound (from the surgery) opening back up. In total, she was bed bound for six weeks.
Should all go to plan, Williams will return to action on Sunday at the US Cellular Arena in Asheville. She has unfinished business to deal with, but remains a mystery as to how she is going to do it.
Sorana Cirstea Announces Fed Cup Retirement, WTA Stars Prepare For 2019
Sorana Cirstea announces her Fed Cup retirement as WTA stars prepare for the 2019 season.
World number 85 Sorana Cirstea has announced her retirement from Fed Cup after competing in the competition for 12 years.
The Romanian first made her debut when she was just 16 years old when she competed against Sweden in Zone Group I Europe/Africa.
Since then Cirstea has won 16 of her 29 Fed Cup rubbers but has now announced that it is time to move on and wishes the team the best of luck for the future.
“I feel like I have done my duty. And now is the time to pass the relay baton onto the new generation,” Cirstea said on her Facebook page.
“I would like to thank my teammates, the Federation, the captains, the coaches and everyone who was involved in our success, and especially the Romanian crowd that has been supporting me over the years.”
The 28 year-old will look to now improve her ranking after a disappointing 2018 season which included a 17-25 win-loss record.
WTA Starts Prepare For 2019
Meanwhile other WTA players have been preparing for the new season, which officially begins in 16 days. Here is some of the best action from the off-season so far:
The Dane decided to use her off-season to improve her tennis with a certain 23 time grand slam champion:
The Belarusian rising star had an amazing 2018 season and is using unique training methods to improve further next season:
Despite an underwhelming 2018 season, the Spaniard has been practicing in California to get ready for the 2019 season:
Practice is perfect in Julia Goerges’ case as she looks to expand on her Wimbledon semi-final:
The US Open champion is getting ready for the new season in Los Angeles as she looks to gain even more fans in 2019:
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Last week saw Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas add to his title collection at the Next Gen Finals in Milan, but one notable absentee from the tournament was Denis Shapovalov.
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Katerina Siniakova saves two match points to secure the 11th Fed Cup title for
Katerina Siniakova secured the decivive 3-0 point to earn Czech Republic its 11th Fed Cup title and its 6th triumph in the past eight seasons at this event since 2011. Siniakova had to save two match point at 4-5 in the third set to beat US Sofia Kenin 7-5 5-7 7-5 in the third singles match to the delight of the enthusiastic Czech fans, who packed the O2 Arena in Prague.
Siniakova scored her second singles win this weekend after beating Alison Riske on Saturday.
Siniakova converted her first break chance and went up a double break early in the first set. Kenin got back on serve at 1-2 in a 10-minute game before breaking again in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Sinakova bounced back by breaking serve once more. Kenin converted on her break point at deuce at 3-5 down before drawing level to 5-5. Siniakova reeled off five consecutive games to build up a 7-5 3-0 lead, but Kenin came back from 15-40 down to win her first game of the second set. The US teenager broke twice in a row in the fifth and seventh games. Siniakova pulled the break back for 4-5 with a series of backhand winners. Kerer broke again at love in the 11th game to take a 6-5 lead before sealing the second set on the fourth set point.
Siniakova saved three break points in the first game of the decider before breaking serve on her second chance. The Czech player consolidated the break with a hold to build up a 3-0 lead.
Siniakova fended off four break points to hold serve for 4-1 in a 19-minute marathon fifth game. Kenin fought back by winning four consecutive games thanks to two consecutive breaks in the seventh and ninth games to take a 5-4 lead, but she fired the ball beyond the baseline twice from 40-15 and failed to convert her two match points. Siniakova reeled off six points in a row from 0-40 down at 5-5. Siniakova got the final break of the match in the 12th game to seal a thrilling win after 3 hours and 44 minutes, when Kenin sent her forehand into the tramlines. The Czech team celebrated the fourth of their six titles since 2011 at the O2 Arena in Prague.
Siniakova scored the third win in four singles Fed Cup rubbers. She hit 4 aces and won 56 percent of her first serve points. Kenin hit 42 winners but she made 76 unforced errors.
Czech Republic ended a 8-match losing streak against the USA at Fed Cup level.
Petr Pala has won his sixth title as captain of the Czech Fed Cup team. He boasts an impressive 24-4 win-loss record in the 28 Fed Cup matches where he took charge of the Czech team.
The US team captained by Kathy Rinaldi did not defend their title won in 2017, but they featured a young team with three players Danielle Collins, Sofia Kenin and Nicole Melichar, who made their debut at this event this weekend.
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