Petra Kvitova makes emotional Fed Cup return, pays tribute to Jana Novotna

US Fed Cup Team Begins Title Defense with the Williams Sisters in North Carolina This Weekend Versus the Netherlands

US Fed Cup Team Begins Title Defense with the Williams Sisters in North Carolina This Weekend Versus the Netherlands

But this weekend's headline is the return of Serena Williams, who participated in a December 30 exhibition match but otherwise hasn't played since that 2017 Australian Open.

For Williams, this weekend will mark the first time she has competed in a Fed Cup tie since April 2015.

Williams was beaten in straight sets and appeared a little slow on her feet, even as she played some fine shots.

Venus credited teammate CoCo Vandeweghe, who scored a hard fought win over Hogenkamp the day before, for paving the way.

"Knowing I've got this handsome baby to go home to makes me feel like I don't have to play another match".

'She's such an awesome, incredible athlete, ' the Danish player told ESPN.

She had initially targeted last month's Australian Open crown for a defence of her 2017 crown, but abandoned that goal after declaring she was not "where I personally want to be". "I wanted things to be really top-notch really early, and I think that definitely hurt me at the start, trying too hard, trying to place it and be so flawless", Vandewegh said. The American player is set to compete in her first match in more than a year this weekend in the Fed Cup tie between the United States and the Netherlands, and Caroline Wozniacki feels she can really do well. Sunday's schedule now has Venus Williams facing Hogenkamp and Vandeweghe taking on Rus, but both captains still have time to make substitutions.

Serena Williams dealt with serious health issues after giving birth to her daughter in September last year and the former world No. 1 on Friday said that her status for this year's remaining Grand Slams remains up in the air.

Netherlands captain Paul Haarhuis said his squad would have to pull off what he felt might be "the biggest upset in USA tennis history" to win.

United States captain Kathy Rinaldi said the Fed Cup was the flawless venue for Williams to launch her comeback.

"I was trying to find the balance between going big and going too big". 'I would never write her off.

'Actually, I think having a baby might help. Vandeweghe had to rally from a set and a break down to win her match 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3 over Richel Hogenkamp.

Williams, 36, hasn't played an official match since winning the 2017 Australian Open.

She is now one title short of matching Court's all-time record for Slam singles titles of 24 - a mark she is determined to better.

The anticipation of her return to tennis after the birth of her daughter, Alexis Olympia, was not lost on the local crowd.

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

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