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Serena, Zina Join Forces For Fed Cup First Round

Photo By Susan Mullane By Tennis Week
03/16/2005

Lindsay Davenport and Serena Williams faced off in the Australian Open final and will share the court again when they join forces to lead the United States Fed Cup team against Belgium next month.


The quarterfinal tie represents a reunion for Williams and U.S. captain Zina Garrison, who have worked together on a past American Fed Cup and Olympic teams.

"It gives me the opportunity to play (for Garrison). I'm excited about that," Williams said. "I love working with her and she’s offered some wonderful tips to my game. That alone is a great inspiration for me. I’m like 'Oh my God Zina, I’ve got a play for you.' So I’m really excited about that."

A year ago, Garrison became the first African-American captain in the history of the women’s international team competition and the 18th U.S. Fed Cup captain. The 1990 Wimbledon finalist was one of the best volleyers of her era and has encouraged both Williams sisters to take advantage of their groundstrokes, mobility and athleticism by moving forward to close points at net. Serena Williams has show a willingness to attack and Garrison believes consistently working on the approach will help the top American women feel more comfortable in the front court.

"If people have really paid attention when Serena started winning, Serena was coming in. So you know, they get it," Garrison told Tennis Week. "Jennifer (Capriati), when she's playing well, she's attacking you and finishing the points off strongly. Lindsay (Davenport) does that as well. So it's just a matter of doing it at the right time when you're comfortable and everything's working for you."

Tickets for the April 23rd-24th tie are on sale now and can be purchased by calling (561) 966-3309 or visiting Ticketmaster.com.



"Having the commitments of both Lindsay and Serena, two of the top three players in the world, gives us a great opportunity for success against a potentially dangerous Belgian team," said Garrison. "They're both playing top-level tennis, with Lindsay holding the No. 1 spot since October and Serena coming off of a huge win at the Australian Open. We have a great foundation for our team and anticipate assembling the rest of the U.S. squad shortly." Davenport and Williams have been two of the most successful players in recent U.S. Fed Cup history. This tie will mark Davenport's record-setting 10th year of Fed Cup competition, breaking Chris Evert's prior record of nine years representing the U.S. in Fed Cup competition. Evert holds American records for most career Fed Cup victories (57-4) and most career singles victories (40-2).

"I'm honored to return to the U.S. team and represent my country in Fed Cup play," said Davenport. "I welcome the camaraderie and support that have always been part of my Fed Cup experiences and look forward to helping my team in Delray Beach advance to the semifinals."

The 28-year-old Davenport owns a 28-2 career Fed Cup record, including a 21-match win streak. Davenport's last loss in Fed Cup competition was a 6-2, 6-1, setback to Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in Spain's 3-0 victory over the United States in the 1994 Fed Cup final.

In her last Fed Cup appearance, Davenport defeated Anna Smashnova and Tzipi Obziler to lead the United States to a 5-0 sweep of Israel in the 2002 Fed Cup Qualifying Round tie.

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams, who has registered a 6-0 record in Fed Cup competition, will be playing her first Fed Cup tie since she swept two singles victories and partnered with older sister Venus to win the doubles match in the Americans' 5-0 victory over the Czech Republic in the 2003 opening round.

The Williams sisters have a good relationship with Garrison, who previously served as Fed Cup coach under former captain Billie Jean King. Garrison was the U.S. Olympic coach when Venus Williams won the gold medal in singles and Venus and Serena struck gold in doubles at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympic Games. The fact that the the first-round tie will be staged in Delray Beach, within driving distance of the Williams sisters' Palm Beach Gardens, Florida home, makes it a true home tie for Serena and though Venus has not been formally announced as a team member yet, Serena suggested Venus will be part of the squad.

"It’s in Delray Beach and its like 'Oh my god I live 10 minutes away' and it couldn’t be a better opportunity for me to play with Lindsay, Venus and at home where I practically live, playing at home," Williams said. "So, it was a no-brainer for me. And it was great that (Zina) made sure that it was so convenient for all the players."
 
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