Fed Cup: Serena Williams loses on return to competition
The two Williams sisters were beaten in doubles.
Serena Williams played in her first competitive tennis match in a year as she teamed up with her elder sister Venus Williams in the doubles match against the Netherlands in a World Group first round clash at the Fed Cup on Sunday.
The former World No. 1 played in an exhibition match in December against the French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, which she lost and subsequently avoided the current year's Australian Open. Her infant daughter, Alexis Olympia was courtside as her mom and auntie played in a dead doubles rubber on Sunday.
The Williams sisters were beaten 6-2, 6-3 by Lesley Kerkhove and Demi Schuurs, but before that, the American team had officially won the clash to progress to the semi-finals.
"It was extremely extraordinary to be out here with Venus and we're so upbeat Team USA won today," Williams said after the match. "I'm extremely glad to be here and that we progressed to the following round," she added.
On her girl being in Asheville, North Carolina to witness her match, she said: "It's her first match so I'm happy she got the chance to see it."
Williams' last title was at the 2016 Australian Open before she took time away from the circuit to give birth to her little girl. The Williamses have been a standout pair amongst other doubles teams on the circuit for quite a long time and have won 22 titles together.
In a recent interview, Williams had revealed she was laid up for a month and a half after the birth of Alexis Olympia following a crisis caesarean segment. That had left her unable to practise for two months following the delivery.
Williams had used the December exhibition match to gauge where she was and the loss led her to pulling out of the year's first Major as she felt she was not ready. Williams had been cautious since then and had decided to opt out of singles in the Fed Cup tie against the Netherlands.
The doubles match clearly showed she was still not at her best and the resulting loss took a portion of the sparkle off the United States' generally conclusive triumph, leaving the last score 3-1 for the defending champions.