Serena leads U.S. Fed Cup this weekend

February 2, 2012

LOS ANGELES — Tennis Channel will provide exclusive coverage of the U.S. Fed Cup team’s first-round competition against Belarus in Worcester, Mass., this weekend, with live telecasts Saturday, Feb. 4, and Sunday, Feb. 5. Because the Americans lost in their first-round competition last April, they must defeat Belarus for a chance to compete for the Fed Cup in 2013. Former World No. 1 and 13-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams will join the United States team against Australian Open champion and World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.

The battle between the United States, a finalist during the 2009 and 2010 Fed Cup competitions, and Belarus will consist of two singles matches on Saturday, and two singles matches and the doubles match Sunday. Tennis Channel will carry all matches live, beginning at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday and 12p.m. ET on Sunday, followed by same-day encore coverage each evening at 7 p.m. ET.

Coverage from DCU Center in Worcester, Mass., is as follows (subject to change):

Saturday, Feb. 4:

Sunday, Feb. 5:

The United States and Belarus have never faced each other in Fed Cup play. The American squad will be playing outside of the Fed Cup’s top division for the first time in its history after losing matches to Belgium and Germany last year. In 2009 and 2010 the United States reached the championship before falling to Italy both times. The United States leads all nations with 17 Fed Cup championships, the most recent in 2000 when it defeated Russia 5-0 in Las Vegas.

The 2012 U.S. Fed Cup team is captained by American tennis star Mary Joe Fernandez, who won the Fed Cup championship as a player in 1996. Serena Williams returned to the courts this past fall after a year-long injury, and reached the final at the 2011 US Open. In 2010 she defended her Wimbledon crown by overpowering Vera Zvonareva to win her 13th Grand Slam singles title. Williams holds 12 doubles titles and two Olympic gold medals in women’s doubles in 2000 and 2008 with her sister Venus. Christina McHale scored the biggest win of her young career last year when she upset World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati and defeated Marion Bartoli en route to the third round at the US Open. She enters this weekend’s match after an impressive run at the Australian Open before falling to Jelena Jankovic. Venus Williams is appearing in her first sanctioned competition since being diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome last year. She has captured seven Grand Slam singles titles and won the Olympic gold medal in women’s singles in 2000. Liezel Huber, doubles World No.1, recently won her fifth Grand Slam doubles title at the 2011 US Open with partner Lisa Raymond.

Belarus earned its spot in Fed Cup play this weekend for the first time since 1999 after an impressive 5-0 victory over Estonia in Minsk, Belarus. If Belarus wins this weekend it will qualify for a chance to compete for the 2013 Fed Cup. The Belarusian team is captained by Sergei Teterin and features World No. 1 Azarenka, Anastasia Yakimova, Olga Govortsova and Darya Kustova.