Serena Williams to make competitive return in Fed Cup doubles

Frederick Owens
February 12, 2018

In her first match since 2017 Australian Open, her maiden Fed Cup rubber since 2015, she closed the tie with a 62 63 defeat against Kerkove and Schuurs.

Speaking ahead of her comeback at the Fed Cup in Asheville, North Carolina, where the United States will begin the defence of its crown against an unfancied Netherlands team, the 36-year-old said she had the benefit of a new outlook following the birth of her baby daughter Alexis Olympia in September.

Williams and Vandeweghe won their singles matches Saturday to give the USA a 2-0 lead over the Netherlands in the best-of-5 event.

'We saw her play an exhibition at the end of last year, but this is a great way for her to start the year and get a couple matches or a match behind her.

"Honestly, I like to think that CoCo wore her (Hogenkamp) down some yesterday", said Williams, who then took to the court with younger sister Serena for a doubles dead rubber. "Every time you hit a second serve, you see someone at the other side standing one or two meters inside the baseline". World number 17 Vandeweghe battled back for a 4-6 7-6 (6) 6-3 victory over world number 108 Richel Hogenkamp to put the Americans one win away from the April 21-22 semi-finals. "It's just great to be playing the game that I love - not really going for milestones, but then they happen".

Serena's sister Venus Williams and CoCo Vandeweghe are set to contest the singles rubbers for the US.

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After racing through the opening set, Williams was made to work in the second where the first five games all ended in service breaks. But Rus faced 14 break points against her serve and was broken by Williams five times. Each player held serve the rest of the way as Williams improved her overall Fed Cup singles record to 20-2.

Vandeweghe's early frustration came to a head when at 2-0 down in the second set and having lost six consecutive games, she smashed her racket in the latest tantrum of her mercurial career. "It gave me a lot of pressure for me to close it out and a lot of pressure for her to stay in and I just handled it a little better".

Last year, U.S. won the Fed Cup title for the 18th time, and the first since 2000, extending its record for most Fed Cup titles. I want them, but I don't need them.

In other World Group Fed Cup series, the Czech Republic leads Switzerland 2-0 while Belarus-Germany and France-Belgium are 1-1.

It was her 1,000th career match and her 22nd singles appearance in a tournament she first played in 1999, but Williams insisted milestones were far from her mind.

The 36-year-old has not competed in a Fed Cup tie since April 2015 but felt the event was as good as any to start her comeback under the leadership of US captain Kathy Rinaldi.

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