- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Serena Williams will be back in the District this summer.

The Washington Kastles of World TeamTennis selected the world’s top-ranked female player Tuesday with the top pick in the league’s annual marquee player draft.

Williams, who won the Australian Open on Saturday to secure her 10th Grand Slam title, also played for the Kastles during the team’s debut season last year. She will appear in one home match in the District and play three road matches. The team’s final roster will be set March 31.

The 27-year-old played in the District last year four days after losing to her older sister Venus in the Wimbledon final. Following the Kastles’ season, Williams went on to win the U.S. Open in September. Her appearance in the Australian Open final last week secured her not only the world’s top ranking but also a place as the highest-paid female athlete in history with more than $23 million in career prize money.

Williams has a sister who lives in the District, and over the years she has visited the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center in the city.

“We’re excited, and I think she’s excited,” team owner Mark Ein said. “She really loves playing in Washington. It’s looking good. She’s as determined as ever, and I think it’s going to be good to have her back.”

The Kastles finished with a record of 6-8 last year, earning fourth place in the Eastern Conference and falling short of a playoff berth.

The Kastles’ schedule for this season has not yet been announced, but a team spokesman said visiting marquee players will include Venus Williams of the Philadelphia Freedoms, John McEnroe of the New York Sportimes and Anna Kournikova of the St. Louis Aces.

World TeamTennis is entering its 34th season. Founded by Hall of Famer Billie Jean King, the league’s matches consist of five events, including men’s and women’s singles and doubles as well as mixed doubles.

Last year, the Kastles played at a temporary stadium downtown at the site of the former convention center. The team could return there, but negotiations with the city are ongoing.

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