DELRAY BEACH, Fla. -- Serena Williams said the groin injury
that forced her to retire from a match last week has healed and
she'll be able to play for the U.S. Fed Cup team this weekend
This will be Williams' first Fed Cup match since 2003.
The U.S. team, which also includes Venus Williams for the first
time since 2005, will be heavily favored against a Belgian team
missing its top two players. No. 1-ranked Justine Henin and No. 4
Kim Clijsters declined to participate.
Serena Williams pulled her groin in practice April 9, then
retired the next day trailing Chan Yung-jan 5-3 at the Family
Circle Cup in Charleston, S.C. Williams said she took a few days
off before she resumed practicing, and she's feeling much better.
"I figured I was going to play this weekend," she said
Wednesday. "When I got hurt in Charleston, it wasn't even a second
thought in my mind. I just knew I was going to be here."
The loss at Charleston was only the second in 17 matches this
year for Williams, who has won the two biggest titles so far -- the
Australian Open and the Sony-Ericsson Open. She fell to 140th in
the rankings last July because of a long layoff but is now 12th.
The first two singles matches in the best-of-five matchup with
Belgium will take place Saturday, with two singles matches and
doubles Sunday. The winner advances to the semifinals in July
against Spain or Russia.
The Williams sisters decided to participate in the first round
in part because Delray Beach is only a 30-minute drive from their
home in Palm Beach Gardens. In addition, they enjoy a good
relationship with U.S. captain Zina Garrison.
"I love playing Fed Cup," Serena said. "I love playing for
the United States. Since 2003, I've had various amounts of
injuries. I've been on the tour kind of on and off.
"More than anything, I love playing for Zina. It's another
great opportunity for me to play for Zina."
Lisa Raymond and Vania King are expected to play doubles for the
Americans against 17-year-old Yanina Wickmayer and 14-year-old
Tamaryn Hendler. Kirsten Flipkens, ranked No. 132, and Caroline
Maes, ranked No. 227, are expected to play singles for Belgium.