USA Fed Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez discussed the importance of potentially having World No. 1 Serena Williams on the team, stating that her participation would make them the sure favourites in the tie against Italy in February.
“Well, from past experiences, you know when Serena’s not there, Italy has been the favorite,” Fernandez said. “They have Sara Errani in the Top 10. Roberta Vinci is bordering the Top 10. Number one doubles [team] in the world. Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone, a couple juniors behind them, Karin Knapp and [Camilla] Giorgi, who played well at the U.S. Open. So they’re very well rounded, the Italian team. They’re very experienced as well as different game styles. They’re very capable of altering who needs to play when and against which opponent.”
Other players expected to participate on the American team include No. 12 Sloane Stephens, No. 28 Jamie Hampton, No. 38 Madison Keys, No. 47 Venus Williams, and No. 48 Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
“It’s been a big challenge for us for the last five years when we play against the Italian teams. Obviously, if Serena plays, which I’m counting on her playing, then we become the favorites.”
Serena is 13-0 in Fed Cup competition but has only played sporadically since her first tie in 1999, which was also against Italy. She missed the 2013 tie against Italy, which the US subsequently lost to the eventual champions.Fernandez says that all the U.S. players have committed to playing the tie, but that could change depending on health.