WASHINGTON _ Serena Williams is pulling out of the United States' Fed
Cup semifinal against Russia this weekend because she injured herself during
Wimbledon, The Associated Press learned on Wednesday.
The eight-time Grand Slam singles champion will be replaced by Meilen Tu, who
flew to Stowe, Vermont on Wednesday to join the rest of the squad, a person at
the U.S. Tennis Association told the AP.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Williams' withdrawal and
replacement by Tu were not going to be announced formally until Thursday. The
draw for the best-of-five semifinal is on Friday, with matches on the weekend.
The matchup already lost some luster when two-time major champion Maria
Sharapova, who is No. 2 in the rankings, withdrew from Russia's team because of
a right shoulder injury that's bothered her for months. Russian media reported
that 2004 U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova would pull out, too.
There was, however, some lingering intrigue: As of Wednesday, Russia captain
Shamil Tarpishchev was still waiting to get a visa to be able to travel to the
United States, and Russia's Foreign Ministry posted a statement on its Web site
saying, "We consider this slowness to be incomprehensible and unwarranted."
The USTA said it would help Tarpishchev in any way it could.
Williams and her older sister Venus were part of the four-player team
announced last month by U.S. captain Zina Garrison, along with doubles
specialist Lisa Raymond and teenager Vania King. But five days later, Serena
Williams strained her left calf and hurt her left wrist and thumb during her
fourth-round victory at Wimbledon.
Particularly hampered by the wrist and thumb _ she had to hit backhands with
one hand instead of two _ she lost to Justine Henin in the quarterfinals at the
All England Club. On Tuesday, Williams pulled out of next week's WTA tournament
in Mason, Ohio.
She and Venus, who won Wimbledon for her sixth major title, were on the U.S.
team that beat Belgium 5-0 in the Fed Cup quarterfinals at Delray Beach, Florida
in April. That was Serena Williams' first Fed Cup action since 2003, and
Garrison has spoken about the sisters' commitment to participate in the
competition and win it _ if healthy.
The United States hasn't won the Fed Cup title since 2000.
The 41st-ranked Tu complained last month that she hadn't heard at all from
Garrison before the team was picked.