Venus in, Serena Out For Fed Cup in D.C.
By Rachel Nichols
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 9, 2003; Page D03
Venus Williams is coming to Washington. Despite a recent stumble at the French Open and a heavy tennis schedule this summer, Williams has committed to play for the U.S. Fed Cup team that will face Italy in July, giving organizers hope of selling out Rock Creek Park's William H.G. FitzGerald Center.
The last time Venus and Serena Williams played for the U.S. team, a 4,200-seat stadium in Lowell, Mass., sold out in less than seven hours. This time, Serena has declined an invitation to play and the stadium is nearly twice the size, but Arlen Kantarian, the U.S. Tennis Association's chief executive, still expects the event to be a major draw.
"Venus is the one that started this current tidal wave of interest in women's tennis, and it's great that she's going to come in and lead the charge in Fed Cup for us," Kantarian said. "She brings more than just her talent -- she remains one of the top names in all of sports, and she'll bring an awful lot of excitement."
It is unclear who else will be joining Venus on the drawsheet. With Serena a definite "no" and Monica Seles and Lindsay Davenport highly unlikely because of injuries, popular veteran Chanda Rubin is the next most promising candidate. But Rubin and U.S. captain Billie Jean King still are trying to work out scheduling and team rules issues -- King doesn't allow players to have any personal coaches during Fed Cup weeks and also requires all players to participate in six days of team-related activities.
Meghann Shaughnessy also is a possibility, although whoever else makes the roster, the biggest attraction for Washington fans certainly will be Venus Williams.
"I've learned so much from Zina [Garrison] and Billie," Williams said at the last round of matches. "I've been able to really work hard and focus, and I don't have any excuse of why I can't show up to practice like at home. I'm sold. I love it. I love playing for the team."
Tickets for the July 19-20 event go on sale today through Ticketmaster.
© 2003 The Washington Post Company