For as much as Venus Williams has accomplished, the seven-time Grand Slam singles champion and four-time Olympic gold medalist achieved a first on Sunday.
Williams, ranked No. 22 in the world, defeated No. 66 Johanna Larsson of Sweden, 6-3, 7-5, to clinch the United States’ Fed Cup World Group Playoff victory over Sweden at the Delray Beach Tennis Center in Delray Beach, Fla. It is the first time Williams – who has played in nine U.S. Fed Cup ties and won a Fed Cup championship in 1999 – has clinched a tie for the U.S.
Substituted in for Sloane Stephens by U.S. Captain Mary Joe Fernandez, Williams, after eight match points, clinched the tie in the fourth and final singles match. The U.S. won the tie, 3-2, after Sweden recorded a walkover victory in the doubles match.
In Sunday’s first singles rubber, a meeting of each team’s No. 1 players, world No. 1 Serena Williams defeated No. 54 Sofia Arvidsson, 6-2, 6-1, to give the U.S. a 2-1 advantage. Serena’s 57-minute triumph brought her total match time in two singles victories this weekend to 2 hours, 3 minutes between Saturday and Sunday. The U.S. is 6-0 when Serena plays.
Overall, Serena is 10-0 in Fed Cup singles play, while Venus is 15-3. This was the fifth Fed Cup tie in which the Williams sisters have played together and only the third Fed Cup tie in which they have both played singles
The U.S. now improves to 4-1 against Sweden, 4-0 in ties played in Florida and 3-0 in ties played at the Delray Beach Tennis Center. Fifth-year U.S. Captain Mary Joe Fernandez improved her record to 7-5.
WORLD GROUP SEMIFINALS
Italy leads the Czech Republic, 2-1 (rain delay)
Russia defeated the Slovak Republic, 3-2
WORLD GROUP PLAYOFFS
USA defeated Sweden, 3-2
Germany defeated Serbia, 3-2
Switzerland and Australia are 0-0 (rain delay)
Spain defeated Japan, 4-0
WORLD GROUP II PLAYOFFS
Poland defeated Belgium, 4-1
Canada defeated Ukraine, 3-2
France defeated Kazakhstan, 4-1
Argentina defeated Great Britain, 3-1
—Pat Mitsch, USTA
The field is a mess, and the Williams sisters and anyone else who has to play twice tomorrow are threatened to slip up or go down with injury at the Family Circle Cup. In the case of Wozniacki and Jankovic, the fact that they play only one match tomorrow against underdog opponents Voegele and Bouchard bodes very well for those two former champions of this tournament. I predict Venus will not be able to overcome Lepchenko’s precise game of late and in fact, I think Varvara will win twice tomorrow.
Serena Williams d. Burdette
Safarova d. Cirstea
Serena Williams d. Safarova
Lepchenko d. Venus Williams
Mattek-Sands d. Keys
Lepchenko d. Mattek-Sands
Jankovic d. Bouchard
Wozniacki d. Voegele
Five Former Family Cup Champions to Cure the Upset Stomach in Round of 16
Mallory Burdette, Jessica Pegula and Eugenie Bouchard have enjoyed a fantastic ride in Charleston and delighted fans with their strong performances in upset wins this week.
But it really is time to restore some order at the Family Circle Cup.
This afternoon, Burdette will face prohibitive favorite Serena Williams on BJK Stadium Court while Jess Pegula gets Jelena Jankovic on Althea Gibson Court. Tonight, Genie Bouchard will be under the lights of BJK Stadium when she battles Sam Stosur. Upsets at the Family Circle Cup aren’t likely to rear their head today, but anything is possible. If even one of the underdogs advance, it would mark a career-high moment for them.
With 5 former Cup champions still in the mix–Wozniacki, Stosur, Serena Willams, Venus Williams, and Jankovic, this tournament doesn’t really offer much more room for upsets.
How’s your bracket? Mine was destroyed when Sloane Stephens and Carla Suarez-Navarro went down.
UPDATE: Andrea Petkovic
Second Seed, Caroline Wozniacki (WC), has received a Walkover due to Andrea Petkovic (WC) withdrawing due to a right calf injury.
Petkovic states, “I’m very happy that I came here – it is a very beautiful tournament and I loved every part of it here, so I hope to come back again under better conditions. I’m really sorry that I had to pull out but it was just too dangerous and I don’t want to risk anything.”
RESULTS – APRIL 03, 2013
Singles – Second Round
 [WC] C Wozniacki (DEN) d S Soler-Espinosa (ESP) 61 61
 S Stosur (AUS) d M Erakovic (NZL) 61 62
 L Safarova (CZE) d M Lucic-Baroni (CRO) 75 61
 J Goerges (GER) d O Govortsova (BLR) 62 06 63
[Q] M Burdette (USA) d  S Lisicki (GER) 36 76(5) 75
[Q] E Bouchard (CAN) d  L Robson (GBR) 64 36 61
M Keys (USA) d [Q] G Min (USA) 64 63
[WC] A Petkovic (GER) d [Q] V King (USA) 75 64
Doubles – First Round
 J Goerges (GER) / Y Shvedova (KAZ) d A Groenefeld (GER) / J Husarova (SVK) 36 76(6) 12-10
A Barty (AUS) / A Rodionova (AUS) d N Grandin (RSA) / V Uhlirova (CZE) 62 62
ORDER OF PLAY – THURSDAY, APRIL 04, 2013
BILLIE JEAN KING start 11:00 am
[WC] A Petkovic (GER) vs  [WC] C Wozniacki (DEN)
Not Before 1:00 PM
 S Williams (USA) vs [Q] M Burdette (USA)
 V Lepchenko (USA) vs  V Williams (USA)
 S Cirstea (ROU) vs  L Safarova (CZE)
Not Before 7:00 PM
[Q] E Bouchard (CAN) vs  S Stosur (AUS)
 A Hlavackova (CZE) / L Huber (USA) or [Alt] M Erakovic (NZL) / J Pegula (USA) vs H Chan (TPE) / O Govortsova (BLR)
ALTHEA GIBSON start 11:00 am
[WC] B Mattek-Sands (USA) vs M Keys (USA)
S Voegele (SUI) vs  J Goerges (GER)
[Q] J Pegula (USA) vs  J Jankovic (SRB)
 J Goerges (GER) / Y Shvedova (KAZ) vs M Moulton-Levy (USA) / S Zhang (CHN)\
RISING AMERICAN STAR SLOANE STEPHENS ENTERS FAMILY CIRCLE CUP PLAYER FIELD
World No. 16 Commits to 2013 Tournament
DANIEL ISLAND, S.C.-Sloane Stephens, World No. 16, has committed to the 2013 Family Circle Cup, March 30th - April 7th in Charleston, SC. At nineteen, Stephens is currently the youngest player in the top 20 WTA rankings, and the only teenager.
Indisputably playing her best tennis yet, Stephens recently had a major career breakthrough at the 2013 Australian Open when she upset World No. 1 Serena Williams in the quarterfinals, becoming the youngest American to ever defeat Williams.
“After watching Sloane perform so well in the Australian Open, we are excited to see her game continue to mature at the Cup,” said Eleanor Adams, Tournament Manager. “The fans love watching her play, so Charleston could be a place for her to really shine.”
The 2013 Family Circle Cup will mark Stephens’ third appearance in Charleston.
“I’ve put a lot of hard work in over the past year and it’s starting to pay off,” said Stephens. “I’m looking forward to returning to the Family Circle Cup as it’s our first clay court tournament of the year. Charleston is a beautiful city with great tennis fans”
Stephens has seen success in the Grand Slam singles tournaments. She made it to the third round of the 2011 and 2012 US Open, the third round of the 2012 Wimbledon Championships, the fourth round of the 2012 French Open and the semifinals of the 2013 Australian Open.
She joins Williams, Samantha Stosur, Venus Wiliams, Sara Errani and Mona Barthel in a world-class player field assembling in Charleston for the Family Circle Cup, featuring three of the world’s top 10 players.
For more information about the tournament or to purchase tickets, visit FamilyCircleCup.com.
Players with a ranking like #29 Sloane Stephens rarely get a good draw at a grand slam. They usually get a nice first round pushover, followed by some major talent. Sloane was fortunate enough to face Simona Halep, Kristina Mladenovic and Laura Robson. Last night, she met and beat Bojana Jovanovski in three sets for a trip to the Quarters.
It’s not just the draw, but playing the matches that counts. And Sloane is showing no signs of letting off the gas in Melbourne. She’s now played herself into a position where she’ll be severely tested from here on out. Serena Williams awaits.
Let’s hope Sloane gets a chance to exact a little revenge for Serena’s fist-pumping win over her in Brisbane a couple of weeks back.
After Stephens comeback doubles win with Anna Chakvetadze yesterday, she sat down to discuss the match, the Olympics and Serena Williams:
On the match:
We were down 6-1, 3-0 and we were like “We need to get a game. This is embarrassing.” We were freaking out. Then we broke and got in a rhythm. We just started playing better. And we won. I don’t know how that happened, but it did.
On her impromptu doubles partner:
We actually played earlier this summer in Rome, and I’ve seen her play a couple of times before.
On what it’s like to be one of the youngest in the top 100:
I’m not the youngest player in the top 100. Babos is a couple months younger than me. And I always give that to her. I’m like, she’s the youngest player and I don’t need the pressure so you can have it. She can keep the throne of youngest top 100 player.
I didn’t make it, so regroup. I’m still here. The world’s not over and we’re still living. Every one’s good.
On her stellar 2012:
The year has been awesome. I’ve been really happy and really enjoying myself on court. For myself, I’ve reached my goals and I’ve done the things I wanted to do.
On Serena Williams:
My bestie! She’s like the funniest person ever. We’re really good friends. I look forward to seeing her. Whenever I go to a tournament, I have to find her. That’s my girl!
Sam Stosur is Wonder Woman. After completing more than half of last night’s match this morning against Voskoboeva, she went on to knock off Venus Williams in the quarterfinals only hours later. Tomorrow, Stosur will go for the Williams Exacta in attempting to knock off both Williams Sisters in successive singles matches. That will be known as the Real Final, with the 2 seed and the 5. The other semi, between the 14 and 9 seeds, will see Polona Hercog against Lucie Safarova. It was this close for Hercog to be picked as Tennis East Coast Dark Horse to Win it All, but Wickmayer was settled upon at market close. I swear.
It will be interesting to see what Safarova does tomorrow. Will she be tomorrow’s Wonder Woman, or will the conventional wisdom of “singles before doubles” rule the day?
ORDER OF PLAY – SATURDAY, APRIL 07, 2012 STADIUM start 11:00 am A Medina Garrigues (ESP) / Y Shvedova (KAZ) vs N Grandin (RSA) / V Uhlirova (CZE)
Not Before 1:00 PM  S Williams (USA) vs  S Stosur (AUS)  P Hercog (SLO) vs  L Safarova (CZE)  L Huber (USA) / L Raymond (USA) vs [WC] A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) / L Safarova (CZE) – After suitable rest