Sofia Kenin: 'It's a special feeling to be ranked ahead of Serena Williams'

Tennis - The Australian Open champion has cracked the top-10 for the first time following the triumph in Melbourne

by Jovica Ilic
Sofia Kenin: 'It's a special feeling to be ranked ahead of Serena Williams'

The 18-time Fed Cup champions USA will host Latvia at the Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, hoping to secure the place at the Fed Cup Finals in Budapest in April and fight for another title. The Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin is the new American no.

1, heading to Everett following the first Major crown in Melbourne and joining a strong squad with Serena Williams, Alison Riske, Cori Gauff and Bethanie Mattek-Sands. World no. 7 can't wait to reach Everett and start preparations for the upcoming tie, feeling exciting about competing under the national flag again, especially with her idol Serena Williams who is back in the USA squad only for the second time in the last five years.

The 21-year-old Kenin had a chance to make the Fed Cup debut in 2018 final against the Czech Republic, winning a set against Barbora Strycova and Katerina Siniakova to gather experience. In 2019, she lost to Ashleigh Barty before claiming the first Fed Cup win over Timea Bacsinszky in April in San Antonio.

In Melbourne, Sofia stood above all the rivals, beating Garbine Muguruza in the title match from a set down to become the youngest champion in Melbourne since 2008, entering the top-10 in style as the youngest American debutant since Serena Williams in April 1999.

"Everything is just still a blur for me; I can't believe what happened," Kenin said. "I feel like I'm doing some great things for American tennis; it's such an honor. I've watched Serena; I've been following her, all the Slams she's been winning.

It's a special feeling to be ahead of her; I'm just super excited – I can't wait to compete, be on the same team with her in Fed Cup. When Kathy Rinaldi invited me to Prague to play for the final, I got to experience what it's like out there, playing for your country.

I'm sure she's going to give me the biggest hug once I get to Everett and tell me, 'I always believed in you, kiddo – let's take this Fed Cup now.' It's going to be a tough match-up, but hopefully, we have a chance to beat Latvia.

I know the girls on the team, so we'll see how it goes. The new format, I think it's exciting. Everyone in one place and it brings many people there; it's going to be quite busy. There will be much entertainment and many fans there, so hopefully we can reach the Fed Cup Finals; it would be just amazing to play there.

The Fed Cup final in 2018 was the best experience; there were many emotions on court, so I'd love to play in a final again. Playing Fed Cup is entirely different; I feel like I'm representing my country, with so many people behind me, especially with Kathy on the bench.

There are many emotions, and you can feel it, with the crowd supporting you and everything. You don't want to let your team down and sometimes it gets too emotional, making me cry."

Sofia Kenin Serena Williams Australian Open