The Williams sisters are choosing football over Fed Cup.
Serena and Venus Williams will not play in the Feb. 6-7 Fed Cup quarterfinal between the United States and France, saying they plan to be in South Florida for Super Bowl weekend in their roles as part owners of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.
Instead, Melanie Oudin, Shenay Perry, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and top-ranked doubles player Liezel Huber were on the U.S. roster announced Wednesday by captain Mary Joe Fernandez. The best-of-five series will be played on red clay in Lievin, France.
Asked this week at the Australian Open whether she’d be facing France, Serena Williams said: “I really want to, but … since I do own a football team, we have some owner’s stuff that we have to do for Super Bowl. Venus and I have to be there.”
The Dolphins say that’s not exactly the case.
There is a meeting for NFL owners Feb. 6, the day before the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints play in the Super Bowl at Miami. Last year, the Williams sisters were among several celebrities to buy a small stake in the Dolphins franchise.
“There is no formal requirement for them to be at any of the Super Bowl activities, including the owners’ meetings. Any decision they make is their own personal choice,” Dolphins spokesman Harvey Greene wrote Wednesday in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
“I would also say that while there is no obligation for them to do so, they would benefit by attending some of the Super Bowl activities, since that would give them an opportunity to get to know members of the NFL family,” Greene added.
Serena Williams is 7-0 in Fed Cup action, and her older sister is 17-4, but neither has participated since 2007.
The Williams sisters are by far the top American women: Serena is ranked No. 1 in singles and is in the Australian Open semifinals; Venus is No. 6 and reached the quarterfinals at Melbourne.
Oudin, of Marietta, Ga., is ranked 48th; Perry, of Coral Springs, Fla., is ranked 107th; and Mattek-Sands, of Phoenix, is ranked 154th. Oudin was part of the U.S. team that lost to Italy in the 2009 Fed Cup final.
Mattek-Sands is expected to pair with Huber in doubles. It’s not known whether Perry or Mattek-Sands would join 2009 U.S. Open quarterfinalist Oudin in playing singles against France.
Other nations, including France and Russia, also will be without their best players for the Fed Cup quarterfinals.
The French team announced Wednesday is missing No. 11 Marion Bartoli, No. 20 Virginie Razzano and No. 23 Aravane Rezai. The hosts will have Alize Cornet, Julie Coin, Stephanie Cohen-Aloro and Pauline Parmentier. Cornet has the best current ranking, at No. 51.
Russia will face Serbia without No. 2 Dinara Safina, No. 3 Svetlana Kuznetsova, No. 5 Elena Dementieva, No. 9 Vera Zvonareva, No. 19 Nadia Petrova or former No. 1 Maria Sharapova. Representing Russia in their place: Alisa Kleybanova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Vera Dushevina and Ekaterina Makarova.
AP Football Writer Barry Wilner in New York, and AP Sports Writer John Pye in Melbourne, Australia, contributed to this report.