Courtesy of the Washington Kastles | 2/5/2009, 11:47 a.m.

Reigning U.S. and Australian Open Champion, World #1 Ranked and Ten-Time Grand Slam Singles Champion to Play in D.C.

Kastles and D.C. to Host Venus Williams for First Time while McEnroe and Kournikova Return

The Washington Kastles of the Advanta World TeamTennis are pleased to announce that defending U.S. Open and Australian Open champion and world #1 ranked Serena Williams will return for her second season with the team after being protected earlier today during the league€s marquee player draft.

Serena Williams is currently the top ranked woman in the world and won both the Australian Open women€s singles and women€s doubles titles over the past weekend. She has now won 20 career Grand Slam titles; 10 singles, eight women€s doubles and two mixed doubles. Her consecutive singles titles in the 2008 U.S. Open and 2009 Australian Open are her first back-to-back Grand Slam singles victories since she completed the €Serena Slam€ in 2003.
The Kastles will also welcome Venus Williams of the Philadelphia Freedoms, a seven-time singles and eight-time women€s doubles Grand Slam champion, for her first professional match in Washington. She€ll be joined in D.C. this summer by John McEnroe of the New York Sportimes and Anna Kournikova of the St. Louis Aces, each making their second appearance in Washington. V. Williams, McEnroe and Kournikova have combined to win 36 career Grand Slam titles, with Serena and Venus teaming up to win the Australian Open women€s doubles title over the weekend.

€Coming off her recent Australian Open and U.S. Open wins and carrying the world€s number one ranking, we are incredibly excited to welcome Serena back to Washington€, said team owner Mark Ein. €We€re also thrilled to have Venus play her first professional match in our D.C. stadium this summer.€

€Last season, our town welcomed Serena, a sports icon, as one of our own and she loves competing here and on the road for our team,€ Ein continued. €With the Williams sisters, John McEnroe and Anna Kournikova coming to town, we continue to strive to build the Kastles into a Washington institution and a must-see summer event.€

Serena Williams will play one home and three away matches for the Kastles on dates to be released in February. The rest of Williams€ 2009 Kastles€ teammates will be determined during the Advanta World TeamTennis draft in March. The 2009 stadium site and full match schedule will also be announced in the next two months.

This is the Kastles€ second year competing in the 10-team Advanta WTT Pro League. Last year€s squad, led by Serena Williams, played in front of packed and enthusiastic crowds all season. The team just missed a playoff berth, while claiming several spectacular regular season victories including one over John McEnroe and the New York Sportimes as well as a win over the eventual WTT champion New York Buzz.

€We learned a lot last year about competing in this league,€ stated Ein. €We have three goals this year, and everything we do is focused on achieving them; offer our fans a great, fun and unique experience; give back to our community that has supported us so strongly; and last, but certainly not least, bring the WTT championship home to Washington, D.C.€

During the team€s inaugural season, the Kastles were champions in the community; hosting six clinics led by some of the biggest stars in the game for area youth and donating more than 1,800 tickets and 1,200 rackets to local charities. In total, the Kastles provided more than $110,000 in donations, tickets, racquets and merchandise to local charities, youth groups and children.

€Teaching kids, exposing them to the game, giving them the chance to meet their tennis idols in intimate settings, donating tickets to some of our area€s hardest-working charities - these are bedrocks of the way our franchise will always operate,€ said Ein, who founded the team in 2008.

The Advanta WTT Pro League, co-founded by Billie Jean King, is a professional co-ed sports league featuring three generations of tennis stars playing in a team format. The 34th season of the Advanta WTT Pro League runs July 2-26, concluding with the Advanta WTT Championship Weekend, where teams battle for the coveted King Trophy.

WTT is well known for introducing innovative elements to tennis including instant replay, the co-ed format, multi-colored courts, cumulative and no-ad scoring, on-court coaching, Supertiebreakers and player names on back of their shirts.

This season, the Advanta WTT Pro League will have great support from the United States Tennis Association (USTA), which became a 25 percent owner of the league during the off-season. One of the new partnership€s main goals is to provide an expanded marketing platform for the USTA€s Junior Team Tennis Program through the Advanta WTT Pro League€s teams and players.

€By working with the USTA, we will take World TeamTennis to the next level in the U.S.,€ said King. €We€ve been looking for an opportunity like this for a long time and I cannot think of a better partner than the USTA. I am excited about what the future holds for our partnership.€

€We are thrilled to be once again teaming with one of the greatest ambassadors in tennis, Billie Jean King,€ said Lucy S. Garvin, chairman of the board and president of the USTA. €The USTA recognizes the reciprocal relationship between the pro game and grassroots play, and our new partnership with World TeamTennis provides us a natural platform to promote our many youth initiatives including Junior Team Tennis.€