Serena Williams returns, Fed Cup 'start of a long process'

Serena Williams

Cheered on by her younger sister Serena, who is poised to make her own comeback to the sport after a year away and the birth of her daughter, seven-time Grand Slam victor Venus made relatively light work of her 124th-ranked opponent to win 6-1, 6-4.

The United States beat Belarus last year for a record-extending 18th Fed Cup title, their first in 17 years, and are heavy favourites to beat the Netherlands.

The 36-year-old added of her future ambitions: "I have long-term goals obviously, but right now my main goal is just to stay in the moment".

'Maybe this goes without saying, but it needs to be said in a powerful way: I absolutely want more Grand Slams, she told Vogue in an interview last month.

Williams said Friday she's unsure about how she will manage her schedule and whether she will play all three remaining Grand Slam events this year. "There is a sense of pride you have when you play for more than yourself". Sunday's scheduled singles matches have Venus Williams facing Hogerkamp and Vandeweghe taking on Rus. Every day, I get better and I get stronger.

It means the 23-time Grand Slam champion will not feature in today's opening two singles, where sister Venus Williams will face Aranxta Rus before Coco Vandweghe takes on Richel Hogenkamp.

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"She's been out, becoming a new mom, and she's looking to get back into playing", Rinaldi said. "It's just great to be playing the game that I love - not really going for milestones, but then they happen".

Fans clamored for pictures during the match selection process, but it was 14-year-old Kennedi Green who got the chance to meet the Williams sisters up close and personal. "It's a totally new experience".

"She might go out a little less", Venus said before breaking into a grin.

Serena Williams acknowledged there have been "a lot of ups and downs" in her comeback as she mentioned "fighting against all odds to be out there and to be competing again".

Williams took part in an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi in December and had hoped to make her return to tournament action at last month's Australian Open, only to subsequently withdraw. Not only does it allow her to practice alongside a few different players, it also enables her coach and teammates to offer different perspectives on her progress.

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