Venus Williams lifts U.S. into Fed Cup's World Group Playoff

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii -- Venus Williams clinched a victory over Poland for the U.S. Fed Cup team on Sunday in the Group II first round. Her team advances to the World Group Playoff in April.

A win in April would put the U.S. in contention for the Fed Cup title, which it hasn't won since 2000, next year. The U.S. will face Australia in the next round April 16-17.

Williams needed just one hour to snatch a 6-1, 6-2 win against Poland's No. 2 player, Magda Linette, and record the 19th victory of her Fed Cup career.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Coco Vandeweghe teamed up and shot down Klaudia Jans-Ignacik and Paula Kania 6-1, 7-5, to keep the U.S. undefeated in the tie.

After the U.S. went up 4-0, the fourth singles match was not played.

U.S. team captain Mary Joe Fernandez said the weekend's result was significant.

"The goal was to get a win any which way we could," she said. "I think it's great we were able to win all matches. We mentioned this at the beginning of the week: Team competition is different. The pressures are different. The expectations are different.

"It was a big matchup because now we're one step closer to getting back into the World Group next year. This was very important," she said. "Now we go on in April to play our next one, try to get three wins again to compete for the Fed Cup title next year."

Williams said the blustery conditions Sunday tested both players at the start of the match.

"It was just so windy. I just had to be a little more patient, get ready for the ball to do anything," she said. "But I was happy to be able to still get through the court and be able to dictate, which is what I like to do. I always want to get out there and win fast, but it doesn't always happen that way. But I guess when I had a short ball, I came in. Just wanted to be able to get in to the net. When I get my racquet on a volley, usually I'm able to do a lot with it."