Venus and Serena Williams will bring their star power and tennis prowess to the Tar Heel state next month.
The Williams sisters will be headlining the US team as it takes on the Netherlands in the first round of the Fed Cup Feb. 10-11. They were named to the squad on Tuesday with No. 9-ranked Coco Vandeweghe. The fourth member of the team will be announced next week by US Fed Cup Captain Kathy Rinaldi.
Asheville is hosting its first Fed Cup, which is the world’s largest annual international team competition in women’s sport, with approximately 100 nations taking part each year. It’s the fourth time North Carolina has hosted Fed Cup matches with Charlotte (2002), Raleigh (1999) and Wilmington (1995) being the previous stops.
The matches will be held in U.S. Cellular Arena.
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“I think it’s tremendous news to be able to have both Venus and Serena coming in Asheville,” Asheville Buncombe Sports Commission executive director Demp Bradford said. “I think our community already really embraced the event but this just is tremendous news.”
Demand for tickets was already high, Bradford said. Initially, 5,000 tickets were offered but most of those were scooped up shortly after the event was announced. They squeezed 200 more seats in around the court last weekend when final plans were made for television camera placement and other broadcast needs were met. Bradford said those tickets were gone before midnight Tuesday after the Williams sisters were confirmed to play. The matches will be broadcast by Tennis Network (Spectrum Channel 406).
“Any time you’re hosting an event you want to have the premiere of the premier names,” Bradford said. “But our plan was to host the best possible event and to try and set attendance records no matter who came. I would love to have more tickets available.”
Serena Williams has 23 Grand Slam championships and will be returning to competitive play for the first time in more than a year since giving birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia on Sept. 1. Venus Williams, ranked No. 5 in the world, has won seven major championships. It is the first time the Williams sisters have been on the squad since 2015.
The US is coming off its record 18th Fed Cup title after defeating Belarus in Minsk in November behind the play of Vandeweghe. It was the US’s first Fed Cup title since 2000.