Captain Mary Joe Fernandez has named the United States' Fed Cup tennis team that will face host-Belgium in the World Group quarterfinals next month in Antwerp. The Americans will be without world number-five Venus Williams for the best-of-five match clash, after she suffered an injury during the Australian Open.
Speaking from Melbourne where the Australian Open is being played, Fernandez named 48th-ranked Bethanie Mattek-Sands, number-64 Melanie Oudin, 88th-ranked Vania King and Liezel Huber to the American squad.
King was named to replace the injured Venus Williams, who told Fernandez she could not compete after hurting her hip in a match last week.
"Venus was going to play and unfortunately she got hurt during the Australian Open," said Fernandez. "And I just confirmed with her just a couple of days ago about her injury and that she wouldn't be able to go."
That means the U.S. team will be without both Williams sisters. World number-four and 13-time Grand Slam winner Serena has not played a tournament match since July because of a foot injury. It's the second straight year both Williams have missed the Fed Cup because of injuries.
Belgium's team has not yet been named, but is is expected to include world number-three Kim Clijsters. Fernandez says the U.S. team has a tough challenge ahead.
"That's pretty clear," added Fernandez. "We're looking forward to it, we have our work cut out for us but we're going to go give it our best shot. We have great faith in the team and their capabilities. We'll see what happens."
The best-of-five World Group quarterfinal series will be played on an indoor hard court at the Antwerp Sports Palace, February 5-6. The hosts, who have not made it to the World Group since 2007, have won 10 of their last 12 home ties.
The United States leads Belgium 5-1 all-time in head-to-head Fed Cup play. The Belgian side's only win against the U.S. came at home in the 2006 World Group semifinals. The United States won their last meeting, 5-0, in 2007's opening round.
The United States leads all nations with 17 Fed Cup titles, the most recent in 2000. But the American have lost to Italy in the final the last two years.