Sister Act III will be playing at Central Park this summer.
Serena Williams, the former No. 1
in the world who has won eight Grand Slam titles, will play a match against the New York Buzz in July for her new team, the Washington Kastles.
Williams played in Central Park for the Delaware Smash in 2000, when the Buzz were known as the Schenectady County Electrics, and her sister, Venus, played against the Buzz two seasons ago.
Serena Williams was a popular draw in front of a sold-out stadium court crowd eight years ago, and she should prove to be no less an attraction this summer.
“She’s somebody who’s an icon now,” Buzz general manager Nitty Singh said.
The 11-team World TeamTennis season will run from July 3-23, with each team playing seven home and seven road matches. Singh said Williams will play against the Buzz in the middle of the week following Wimbledon, which concludes July 6.
The full schedule will be announced at the end of the month.
Williams’ competitive spirit was on full display against the Electrics in 2000, when she brought the Smash back to victory in the fifth set while partnered with Marian de Swardt in women’s doubles.
At the time, Williams was the defending U.S. Open champion, and was coming off a doubles championship at Wimbledon with her sister, who had beaten her in the quarterfinals of the singles tournament.
“It was very exciting, it was sold out, she was very happy and she loved the Indian food after the match,” Singh said. “We were leading in that match until the last set, and I told my people, ‘Let’s hurry up and do it, because you can’t give her second chances.’ Then in the last set. she started coming back, and we lost the match.”
This year, Williams was the defending champion at the Australian Open, but lost as the seventh seed to Jelena Jankovic in the quarterfinals.
“She’s playing all right. With them, they don’t have to play that much,” Singh said.
Two years ago, Venus Williams used the WTT as a means of getting back into shape after a series of injuries.
She lost her singles set to Viktoriya Kutuzova. Serena Williams also dropped one of three sets when she played in Central Park.
“They’re both very exciting, but it’s a different style of play and different personalities, too, I think,” Singh said. “Serena’s more intense.”
Among the other marquee players who were named to play WTT this season are Venus Williams (Philadelphia), Andy Roddick (St. Louis), Lindsay Davenport (Newport Beach), Martina Navratilova (Boston) and Bob and Mark Bryan (Kansas City).
Pete Sampras, who played against the Buzz in Central Park last year, is not playing WTT this season, and Maria Sharapova is undecided.
The WTT teams will finalize their rosters on April 1.
The Buzz reached the championship match last year, losing to Sacramento, but will likely have some new faces on the roster this season.
Rik de Voest is expected to play more on tour, and Ashley Fisher will be out for a few months with a knee injury. Singh said Greta Arn will likely be back.
Because it’s an Olympic year, there will be two fewer weeks of tour events, which means the same number of tournaments will be compressed into fewer weeks, giving de Voest, who was named MVP of the WTT championship weekend, more opportunity to get into some main draws instead of having to qualify.
“It’s a chance of a lifetime for him, so I said, fine, I understand that,” Singh said.