Venus Williams plans to travel with the U.S. Fed Cup team for its World Group playoff at Germany but is not expected to play because of an injured hip that has sidelined her since January.
The U.S. Tennis Association said Tuesday that Williams’ management team said she “intends to make the trip.” The USTA also said it considers that enough to fulfill participation requirements for the 2012 Olympics, because Williams is willing to play Fed Cup and can’t because she’s hurt.
The seven-time Grand Slam title winner hasn’t played since her hip caused her to stop playing only minutes into a match in the Australian Open’s third round.
“Hopefully, she’ll be able to practice. I don’t expect her to play but, obviously, in the next 10 days, if she’s playing great and feeling fit, then there’s always that possibility,” U.S. captain Mary Joe Fernandez said in a conference call.
Williams’ younger sister Serena, out of action since July with a series of health problems, will not attend the April 16-17 matches at Stuttgart, Germany.
“Our primary concern is Serena’s health and supporting her needs to get better. We’ve been advised by Serena’s management that Serena needs to remain in the United States to receive daily medical treatment,” the USTA said in a statement. “In regards to the 2012 Olympic eligibility issue, the rules are written in such a way that they are open to interpretation. We are not focused on Se rena’s Olympic eligibility right now. We are focused on beating Germany.”
She was diagnosed in February with a blood clot in her lungs, then needed treatment for a hematoma. The 13-time major champion also had two operations for a foot injury she got when she stepped on glass a few days after winning Wimbledon last summer.
“I think right now, doctors advise against traveling. She has to, I think, be seen every day. We’re just hoping she can have a speedy recovery and get healthy,” Fernandez said. “Tennis is really the last thing we’re concerned about. We’re just concerned that Serena gets better.”
The Williams sisters have not competed for the U.S. Fed Cup team since 2007.
The International Tennis Federation wants players to participate in Fed Cup or Davis Cup in order to be eligible to compete at an Olympics.
“The USTA’s position has been that if a player makes himself/herself available for Davis Cup or Fed Cup, and if the player is physically unable to compete, then the player can travel to the tie to support the team and will have fulfilled that portion of the player’s Olympic eligibility requirements,” the USTA said.
Fernandez’s roster will include Fed Cup regulars Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Melanie Oudin and Liezel Huber. Christina McHale also is on the team after recently moving into the top 100 in the WTA rankings.
Fernandez said she hasn’t decided whether surprise 2009 U.S. Open quarterfinalist Oudin or McHale will join Mattek-Sands as singles players for the best-of-five series that will be played on red clay.
“I will definitely look at who’s more confident at the time,” Fernandez said. “You’ve seen Melanie in Fed Cup. Even when she hasn’t been playing that well, she finds a way to rise to the occasion when she’s playing for her country and her teammates. I’ve got to take that into consideration, as well.”
Germany’s team is slated to include Andrea Petkovic, Julia Goerges, Sabine Lisicki and Anna-Lena Groenefeld.
Whichever country wins will move into the eight-team World Group, the top tier of Fed Cup. The U.S. was forced into the playoff because it lost to Belgium in the first round in February.
“It’s going to be obviously a tough match away on the red clay,” Fernandez said. “A big challenge. … We look forward to challenges.”