In a boost for United States women’s tennis, Venus Williams clinched the Fed Cup World Group Playoff against Sweden by defeating Johanna Larsson 6-3, 7-5 in Delray Beach, Florida on Sunday, April 21. By winning her match, the elder Williams sister gave the U.S. a 3-1 lead over Sweden in the international, team competition.
To claim the win, the 21st ranked Venus needed eight match points in the final game and on her serve, which has long been lauded as one of the most effective on the WTA tour.
ESPN reports, “The victory guarantees the U.S. a spot in the coveted 2014 Fed Cup World Group, while Sweden will play 2014 World Group II action.”
According to Tennis.com, Venus’ win marked the first time that the former World No. 1 and seven-time Grand Slam champion has clinched a Fed Cup tie in favor of the United States. Moreover, the victory vaulted her overall singles record in Fed Cup play to 15-2.
The report continued that the decision to play Williams in the singles match was largely due to the champion’s insistence, explained Captain Mary Joe Fernandez. In the end, she switched out 2013 Australian Open semifinalist and the No. 16 Sloane Stephens for Venus.
Said Venus, “To be honest, I wanted to be out there. I told Mary Joe yesterday I feel good, I feel positive.”
“I pumped myself up and I wanted to be there for the team,” she continued.
Fernandez told reporters, “The hardest thing was trying to decide when to play which one. At the end of the day, experience just goes a long way. Venus has been there so many times before.”
She continued, “To have her in that clinching match for me was really important.”
Earlier in the day, No. 1 Serena defeated Sofia Arvidsson 6-2, 6-1 to give the United States a 2-1 lead in the tie.
Serena is now 10-0 in Fed Cup singles matches.
For highlights of the match against Larsson, click here or watch below.
For more information on Fed Cup, see the official website here.
Benjamin Snyder is a sports contributor to The Burton Wire. You can follow him on Twitter @WriterSnyder.