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.
Copper Box Arena To Host Historic Fed Cup Tie Against Kazakhstan
Great Britain will host Kazakhstan in the Copper Box Arena in April in their World Group II Play-Off tie.
The Copper Box Arena will host Great Britain’s historic Fed Cup World Group II tie against Kazakhstan in April.
The venue was announced on Thursday afternoon as Great Britain prepare for a historic World Group II tie against Kazakhstan in April.
The Copper Box Arena hosted some Olympic events in 2012 and has a capacity of 5,800 as Great Britain look to build on the momentum they picked up in Bath in February.
It is located in Hackney, London not too far from where Great Britain’s Fed Cup captain, Anne Keothavong, grew up and has stated the importance of April’s tie, “It’s very special to come back to my home borough of Hackney,” she said at a visit to Clapton Girls Academy.
“Having grown up and started playing tennis here, I never dreamt that one day I would be coming back and leading the British team in what is the world cup of women’s team tennis.
“Looking ahead to April, words can’t describe the sense of anticipation we are going to have playing our first World Group play-off at home.
“Home support makes such a massive difference in sport and we saw the impact the GB fans had in getting the team over the line in Bath recently.”
The tie is set to be Great Britain’s first home-and-away home tie for 28 years and Keothavong is looking for a big home support on Easter weekend, “For the fans, I’m hoping that seeing our players perform with all they have got will inspire the next generation of kids to get out there and get involved with tennis.”
The tie will take place on the weekend of the 20th and 21st of April with tickets expected to be priced at around £12. This match is expected to be close with not much separating the four singles players involved.
Fed Cup Draws: Great Britain Get Second Home Tie In Two Months, Czechs Look To Bounce Back
Great Britain will have another home tie as they face Kazakhstan in April’s World Group II Play-Offs
After waiting 26 years for a home tie, Great Britain will have a second tie in two months as they face Kazakhstan in April’s World Group II Play-Offs.
After hosting some Zone Group I Europe/Africa action in Bath and successfully qualifying for the World Group II Play-Offs, Great Britain have been handed another home tie.
The Brits will face Kazakhstan in April with the winners getting promoted to the second tier of women’s team tennis, a historic occasion for both nation.
This tie along with the other World Group II and World Group play-off ties will take place on Easter weekend between the 20th and 21st of April.
After finding out the news GB Fed Cup captain Anne Keothavong said she is ready for a raucous atmosphere in April, “We saw the fantastic atmosphere home fans create and the role they play in lifting our players beyond their limits.”
There is strong rumour that the tie could be played at the Copper Box Arena in London although that will be confirmed next week.
Meanwhile the pick of the other ties sees a strong Russia team host Italy while either the Netherlands or Japan face relegation to Zone Group I.
Czechs Look To Bounce Back.
In the World Group Play-Offs draw the Czech Republic were handed an easy home tie to Canada as they face unchartered territory in April.
The defending champions will play their first play-off tie since losing 3-2 to Romania in an exhilarating tie in Ostrava which was their first defeat on home soil for ten years.
While the other 2018 Fed Cup finalists USA will host Switzerland and Latvia host Germany in a historic tie for the hosts as they look to make the World Group for the first time in their history.
Here is the full World Group and World Group II Play-Offs draw with the ties taking place on the 20th/21st of April:
*Home teams are first
World Group Play-Offs
Czech Republic v Canada
USA v Switzerland
Latvia v Germany
Belgium v Spain
World Group II Play-Offs
Russia v Italy
Japan v Netherlands
Great Britain v Kazakhstan
Slovakia v Brazil
Simona Halep Vows To ‘Give Her All’ In Fed Cup Following Shock Win For Romania
The former world No.1 has her eyes set on winning the team competition this year.
Reigning French Open champion Simona Halep has pledged to fully commit herself to the Fed Cup after helping guide Romania to a shock win over the weekend.
Halep recorded wins over Katerina Siniakova and Karolina Pliskova during her country’s surprise 3-2 win over heavyweights the Czech Republic. A team who has won the title in six of the past eight years of the competition. The deciding win was clinched in the doubles when Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu and Monica Niculescu defeated Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 6-4 in a match that lasted just under three hours.
“It was my biggest and best win in the Fed Cup and to win both rubbers against the Czech Republic means a lot to me because they have such a big history in this competition,” Halep told reporters following her win over Pliskova.
Romania now finds themselves in the semifinals of the competition for the first time since 1973. Last year the team defeated Canada in Group II and then won their play-off tie against Switzerland to graduate to the top tier of the competition. They have a winning 6-3 record in the Fed Cup since 2015.
Reflecting on the latest triumph, Halep believes it will help inspire the next generation of players in her home country. During an interview with Telekom Sport on Sunday, the former world No.1 say she will ‘give her all’ to the team this year.
“It was a very tensed match, it was even harder in the stands. I was very nervous. Monica asked me before if I want to get in court, but I told her she is better.” The Romanian Journal quoted Halep as saying.
“We all made a huge effort for this game. We played against a big champion, Czech Republic. the girls are extraordinary, they left their heart on the court, so they managed to win.
“As I said before, this year I am giving all for the Fed Cup team. It is a huge step for us, for our country. The little ones who start playing tennis can trust us. This Fed Cup means something.”
Hoping to reach the final for the first time in history, Romania will take on France in the semi-finals in April. A country they last played back in 1976 at the Spectrum Stadium in Philadelphia, America. France defeated Belgium 3-1 in their quarter-final tie.
The semi-final tie will be held in France at a yet to be confirmed venue. In the other semi-final, Australia will take on Belarus.
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