CARLSBAD, Calif. (April 17, 2019) – Seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Venus Williams and Bob and Mike Bryan, the most decorated doubles team in tennis history, are among many tennis icons and stars who will showcase their world-class talent and Grand Slam pedigree as Franchise players playing in the 44th season of World TeamTennis from July 14-31.
“World TeamTennis continues to attract many of the world’s best players and the top Americans in the sport,” WTT CEO Carlos Silva said. “We are excited to see our tennis stars lend their talent towards this unique league and embrace the team approach to tennis as they compete for the King Trophy in the 2019 season.”
Williams, poised to play her 14th WTT season, returns to the Washington Kastles, a team she has won the WTT championship with. Williams will play a home-and-home series against Philadelphia on July 25 and July 26. In singles, Williams owns 49 WTA titles (including Wimbledon in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008, and the 2000 and 2001 U.S. Open) and the 2000 Olympic Gold Medal. In doubles, she has won 22 WTA titles (six at Wimbledon, four Australian Opens, two U.S. Opens and two French Opens) and the 2000, 2008 and 2012 Olympic Gold Medal with her sister, Serena.
“I always enjoy playing for the Kastles,” Williams said. “We have a really good team that I know will once again compete for the King Trophy.”
The Kastles’ formidable Franchise player lineup also includes ATP Tour player Frances Tiafoe, a 21-year-old native of Hyattsville, Md. who is ranked No. 29 in the world, and Nick Kyrgios, ATP-ranked No. 34 (Australia’s second-highest ranked player).
Fourteen-time ATP Tour winner John Isner, No. 10 in the ATP rankings and the world’s top-ranked American, will suit up for the New York Empire at home on WTT Opening Night, July 14, against the Ryan Harrison-led San Diego Aviators. Recently, the 6-foot-10, hard-serving Isner reached the ATP 2019 Miami Open singles final before falling to Roger Federer.
“I’m really looking forward to playing the first match at our new home, the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning in the Bronx,” Isner said. “There’s nothing quite like the electricity and energy of playing in New York City, especially a night match outdoors.”
Current U.S. Davis Cup captain and former world No. 7 Mardy Fish will also return to the New York Empire for its home matches on July 29 and July 30.
WTT’s expansion franchises, the Orlando Storm and Vegas Rollers, will roll out the red carpet for some of the best American players in recent times.
Vegas will be armed with the Bryan brothers – they have teamed to win 114 ATP doubles titles, 16 Grand Slam doubles championships (six Australian Opens, five U.S. Opens, three at Wimbledon and two French Opens) and the 2012 Olympic Gold Medal – as well as 10-time ATP singles champion Sam Querrey, a 2017 Wimbledon singles semifinalist and Las Vegas resident, and 6-foot-11 ace Reilly Opelka, the tallest ATP-ranked player in history (currently at No. 57).
At 40, Mike Bryan remains the world’s top-ranked doubles player. He and twin brother, Bob, have won the most professional tennis matches, tournaments and Grand Slams and held the World No. 1 doubles ranking together for longer than any duo. They held the year-end No. 1 ranking a record 10 times.
Orlando will feature four-time WTA champion and 2017 U.S. Open singles finalist Madison Keys, who is ranked No. 14 in the world at the age of 24, and Spanish ATP Tour player Feliciano Lopez. Keys will play five home matches for the Storm between July 17-27. Keys has often raised her game in the Grand Slam events of late as evidence of her 2018 season in which she reached the semifinals of the French Open and U.S. Open and the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.
2017 WTT champion Orange County Breakers retained world-ranked No. 59 (and American No. 4) Steve Johnson – a four-time NCAA Division I team champion (2009-12) and two-time NCAA Division I singles champion (2011, 2012) at USC, and an Orange, Calif. native – and brings on former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, the 2012 and 2013 Australian Open singles champion.
Reigning WTT champion Springfield Lasers secured Miomir Kecmanovic, who is rapidly rising up the ATP Rankings at 19 years old and is already the fourth-highest ranked Serbian player in the world at No. 91.
Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, No. 28 in the ATP rankings, will suit up for the Philadelphia Freedoms on July 21.
The San Diego Aviators will enlist the services of Harrison during a season-opening, four-match road trip on the east coast as well as San Diego County natives Taylor Fritz and Coco Vandeweghe for matches in Southern California in the middle of the season.
A team-by-team look at WTT’s Franchise players in 2019 (with each player’s WTT match dates):
New York Empire – John Isner (July 14), Mardy Fish (July 29-30)
Orange County Breakers – Victoria Azarenka (July 20), Steve Johnson (July 22, July 24)
Orlando Storm – Madison Keys (July 17-18, July 24, July 26-27), Feliciano Lopez (July 14-19, July 21-22)
Philadelphia Freedoms – Grigor Dimitrov (July 21).
San Diego Aviators – Taylor Fritz (July 19-20), Ryan Harrison (July 14-17), Coco Vandeweghe (July 22)
Springfield Lasers – Miomir Kecmanovic (July 14, July 16-18)
Vegas Rollers – Bob and Mike Bryan (July 20-21), Reilly Opelka (July 15-17), Sam Querrey (July 19-21, July 23, July 25)
Washington Kastles – Nick Kyrgios (July 27), Frances Tiafoe (July 15-17), Venus Williams (July 25-26)
WTT’s 2019 day-by-day match schedule with all Franchise player appearances can be found at www.wtt.com/schedule. WTT previously announced its 59-match regular season – seven home matches and seven away matches for each team – for 2019. The 2019 WTT playoffs, to be hosted by Orleans Arena (at the Orleans Hotel and Casino) in Las Vegas, begin with the league’s semifinals on Aug. 2 and conclude with the WTT Finals on Aug. 3.
The 2018 WTT season concluded on Aug. 5 as the Springfield Lasers, WTT’s longest-running franchise, defeated the Philadelphia Freedoms in the WTT Finals at Drexel University in Philadelphia to capture the King Trophy and its first WTT championship in its 23-year history.
WTT introduced professional team tennis to the world in 1974, with Billie Jean King famously serving as its co-founder. WTT is one of five active U.S. pro sports leagues which has been in operation for over 40 years, along with the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB. For more information on World TeamTennis, please visit www.wtt.com.