<
>

Venus first player named to U.S. Fed Cup roster

1/29/2007 - Tennis

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. -- Venus Williams will play in the Fed
Cup against Belgium.

U.S. Fed Cup captain Zina Garrison announced Monday that
Williams, who missed the Australian Open with a left wrist injury,
has committed to play in the first round on April 21-22 at the
Delray Beach Stadium & Tennis Center.

Williams is scheduled to return to competition for the Diamond
Games on Feb. 12-18 in Antwerp, Belgium, the U.S. Tennis
Association announced Monday.

"Venus is really looking forward to playing Fed Cup this
year," Garrison said during a teleconference call. "Venus
contacted me around the end of November and said she was really
interested in playing. She's excited about trying to bring the Cup
back to the U.S."

Williams has a 13-3 Fed Cup record and helped the United States
win the title over Russia in her Fed Cup debut in 1999. The U.S.
has won the Fed Cup 17 times, but not since 2000.

Garrison said she'd like to lure Serena Williams, who won her
eighth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, onto the Fed Cup
roster.

"I have been in talks with Jill Smoller, Serena's agent, and
been texting Serena about playing," Garrison said. "I think our
being back in Delray Beach gives me a lot of edge since it's close
to her home."

The Williams sisters live in nearby Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.,
about a half-hour drive from the Delray Beach facility.

Garrison, who said Venus Williams is practicing fulltime, will
announce the rest of her roster later. She mentioned young players
Vania King and Ashley Harkleroad as possibilities, along with
doubles specialist Lisa Raymond.

In the 2005 first round, Venus Williams, Serena Williams (who
did not play), Lindsay Davenport and Corina Morariu beat a young,
unheralded Belgium team 5-0 at the same Delray Beach facility.

Garrison expects Kim Clijsters, who will retire after this
season, to be on the Belgium team.

"When we played here before, I had the best team you could ever
think about having," Garrison said. "I think this time around
we'll have the opportunity to play against Clijsters since this is
to be her last time to play Fed Cup. I think Justine [Henin] is a
wait-and-see until its closer to April."