Americans withdraw from Fed Cup finals

LONDON (AP) — The defending-champion United States withdrew Thursday from next month’s Fed Cup finals in Madrid, citing security concerns and fears of terrorism.

The U.S. Tennis Association said it wasn’t a good idea for elite American athletes to compete abroad. The decision was reached with the help of team captain Billie Jean King, players and government officials.

International Tennis Federation spokeswoman Barbara Travers said a replacement team would be selected by Monday.

“It’s never a good thing when you lose your defending champion, but we have a lot of great players coming, solid teams and people with big track records,” Travers said.

The U.S. team could have featured Venus and Serena Williams, Monica Seles and Lindsay Davenport. The competition is scheduled Nov. 7-11.

We're disappointed that we won't be able to defend our Fed Cup title, but with the concerns over security this was obviously the most prudent decision for us,'' King said.The safety and lives of our entire team come first.”

The Americans were part of an eight-team field that also includes Spain, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Argentina, Russia and Australia.

We regret that the USTA felt it necessary to withdraw their team from the upcoming Fed Cup World Finals,'' ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti said.I am certain that the American team is very disappointed that they will not be able to represent their country. We respect their concerns.”

The United States is the two-time defending champion of the Fed Cup, the women’s version of the Davis Cup. It had received a bye into the world finals.

The Americans beat Spain 5-0 last November in Las Vegas for a record 17th championship.

The four candidates to replace the United States are the teams that lost this season’s playoff ties. Germany is the top candidate followed by Slovakia, Italy and Switzerland.

The order is based on the combined ranking — as of Oct. 1 — of the top two players likely to play.