Serena Williams, who was upset in the fourth round of the Australian Open on Monday, and her sister Venus Williams, who sat out the season's first major tournament because of an immune disorder she revealed at last year's U.S. Open, were selected to the U.S. Fed Cup team that will play in World Group II against Belarus on Feb. 4-5 at Worcester, Mass.
World Group II play is used to qualify teams for eligibility to play in the World Group and a chance for the title in 2013. Players also need to make themselves eligible for Fed Cup in order to be eligible for the Summer Olympics and the sisters have indicated they want to play for the U.S. in London this summer.
Christina McHale and doubles specialist Liezel Huber also will play for the U.S. Belarus likely will be led by Australian Open semifinalist Victoria Azarenka. Azarenka, who next plays Kim Clijsters in Melbourne, could be ranked No. 1 in the world by the end of the tournament.
The winner of this match will advance to the World Group Playoff and play for a chance to compete for the Fed Cup title in 2013.
“I am looking forward to having Serena and Venus on the team for the first time since I became U.S. Fed Cup captain," U.S. Fed Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez said. "They bring so much to this team, not only for what they can do on court, but the influence they will have on Christina and the rest of the team."
Serena, 30, will make her first Fed Cup appearance since 2007. She is 4-0 in Fed Cup singles play. Venus, 31, revealed she had been diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome during the U.S. Open in August and hasn't played competitively since then.
-- Diane Pucin
Photo: Venus Williams, left, poses with her sister, Serena, after beating her in an exhibition match in Colombia in November. Credit: Luis Eduardo Noriega / EPA