Serena Williams made her official comeback to professional tennis on Sunday when she appeared in doubles with sister Venus in Fed Cup.
Serena and Venus fell 6-2 6-3 to Lesley Kerkhove and Demi Schuurs in the doubles rubber of the United States’ World Group first round tie against Netherlands in North Carolina.
But the tie was a dead rubber, with Venus having already delivered the hosts an unbeatable 3-0 with a straight-sets victory in singles against Richel Hogenkamp earlier on Sunday.
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“It was really special to be back out here with Venus and we’re so happy that Team USA won today,” she said.
“It’s great (that daughter Alexis Olympia was watching). This is her first match so I’m glad she got to see it. I’m just really happy to be out here in Asheville and to play here for the US. So it’s been really fun.”
Early in the match Serena showed the effects of her lengthy layoff, perhaps most noticeably when she shanked a routine volley that left her bent over in embarrassment.
But shortly after, the owner of an Open-era record 23 Grand Slam singles titles drew wild cheers when she confidently stepped to the net and stretched out to drive home a superb backhand volley.
Despite the loss, it was a positive step for Serena, who was bedridden for six weeks from a series of complications, including a pulmonary embolism that led to multiple surgeries, after her daughter was delivered by emergency cesarean section.
“I honestly feel better than I thought I was going to feel,” she said. “I feel like I’m on the right track.”
This was Serena’s first appearance in an officially-sanctioned match since she won Australian Open 2017.
A few months after that she revealed she was pregnant and in September she gave birth to to Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.
She appeared in an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi against Jelena Ostapenko in late December and had hoped to make her official return in Melbourne to defend her title, but ultimately was not ready.
Serena is on the entry list for Indian Wells and was recently announced as a wildcard recipient in Miami.
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