Sloane Stephens has been tapped to lead the U.S. Fed Cup team in their World Group first-round match against Italy on Feb. 9-10, a team that will be without the famed Williams sisters.
U.S. captain Mary Joe Fernandez also added doubles specialist Liezel Huber and rookies Varvara Lepchenko and Jamie Hampton to the team. Stephens is ranked a at a career high No. 17 in the Tennis rankings after beating Serena Williams to reach the semifinals of the Australian Open. She is scheduled to make her Fed Cup singles debut against the Italians.
Serena Williams, who hurt her back in the quarterfinal loss to Stephens, played in the most recent U.S. match in the Fed Cup — a 5-0 victory over Ukraine in a World Group playoff in April last year.
The match will take place on an indoor red clay court in Rimini, Italy. The Italian team is led by No. 7 Sara Errani and No. 16 Roberta Vinci.