Serena Williams nuzzled her new puppy and chatted with her mom. Venus Williams worked on her serve with Billie Jean King as 14 spectators, including three construction workers in hard hats, watched in awe.
After two riveting weeks in the U.S. Open, the Williams sisters finally were able to relax. And that easy living should continue this weekend as they lead the United States against an overmatched Russian squad in the Fed Cup final.
The U.S. team coached by King includes four of the top five players in the world and is so strong that Serena Williams, coming off her U.S. Open title, won't play singles. Monica Seles, ranked fifth, has been relegated to cheerleading duties.
Russia is missing its top-ranked player, No. 15 Anna Kournikova. The team's most successful player in Fed Cup, Larisa Neiland, now plays for Latvia.
The United States has won 15 Fed Cup titles in the 37-year history of the event.
King calls her squad the "Dream Team," and expects nothing less than an overwhelming victory over the Russians.
"I like high expectations. If you expect it, it usually can happen," she said. "We have to try to win love and love in every match if we can."
Venus Williams, ranked third, will face No. 17 Elena Likhovtseva in Saturday's first match. No. 2 Lindsay Davenport will play No. 68 Elena Dementieva, who is making her Fed Cup singles debut, in the day's other match.
On Sunday, Davenport plays Likhovtseva in the third match of the best-of-five event. Venus Williams faces Dementieva in the final singles match, and then the Williams sisters play Dementieva and Elena Makarova in doubles.
Russian captain Konstantin Bogorodetski, whose team reached the final with 3-2 victories in Moscow over France in the quarterfinals and the Slovak Republic in the semifinals, said he was not expecting a victory over the Americans.
"When we're playing against such highly ranked players, we have the advantage because we do not have to win," he said. "We're playing to show how well we can play and to compete."
Fed Cup Final
When: Today and Sunday
Where: Stanford, Calif.
TV: ESPN2: 10:30 p.m. (taped); Sunday 9:30 p.m. (taped)
Venus Williams vs. Elena Likhovtseva;
Lindsay Davenport vs. Elena Dementieva.
Lindsay Davenport vs. Elena Likhovtseva;
Venus Williams vs. Elena Dementieva.
Serena Williams/Venus Williams vs. Elena Dementieva/Elena Makarova.
The United States has won 15 titles in the Fed Cup's 37-year history.