Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Serena Plays First Competitive Match In Over A Year At Fed Cup

Serena played alongside sister Venus Image Serena played alongside sister Venus
Frederick Owens | 15 February, 2018, 09:55

Serena Williams was understandably far from her best in her return to competition on Sunday but the greatest player of her generation said it was a positive step towards her goal of returning to the pinnacle of her sport.

The dead-rubber was supposed to be the feel-good, icing on the cake, but the Dutch players had other ideas.

In the short-term, and while she has not spoken of any concrete plans for the rest of the year, Williams is on the entry list for the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, which starts on March 5. The US goes to France, which defeated Belgium 3-2.

Unfortunately, Serena and younger sister Venus lost their doubles match to Holland's Demi Schuurs and Lesley Kerkhove. "It's definitely a different kind of pressure".

"I honestly feel better than I thought I was going to feel", said Williams, who prior to Sunday had not played a competitive match since her 2017 Australian Open victory.

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Although this may not have been the return to tennis Serena had dreamed about, it was probably even more special than her most impressive wins - because her sweet daughter Alexis Olympia and her husband Alexis were cheering her on from the stands.

Ever the perfectionist, Williams admitted balancing work and new motherhood is a challenge: "I didn't manage my time well, but I was thinking about it in the future how to manage it better, "she said after the match". I'm going to try to do better. "It was hard. It was the first time for me".

Williams had told Vogue magazine that she developed several small blood clots in her lungs after her daughter was born September 1. That had left her unable to practise for two months following the delivery. "That gave me an opportunity to be able to close it out for the United States of America", she said."There was a lot of pressure for me to close it out, for her to be able to stay in, and I was able to handle it a little better", she added. It's just a start.

"Well, what I saw today was that she lacks match practice", Team Netherlands Captain Paul Haarhuis said.

"I think she's going to be fine", Haarhuis said. "She's got the game, you know?"

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