Serena loses on return to competition

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By 2018-02-13

Former world number one Serena Williams said she felt on the "right track" despite a crushing loss in her long-awaited comeback to tennis on Sunday playing alongside big sister Venus in a Fed Cup dead rubber.

The duo, who have combined to win 22 doubles titles, were outgunned by the unheralded Dutch pairing of Lesley Kerkhove and Demi Schuurs who were playing in their first ever outing together.

The Williams lost 6-2, 6-3 with 36-year-old Serena appearing particularly slow on her feet and poor in her shot selection after more than a year away from the sport.

But she was determined to put on a brave face after the loss took some of the shine off the Americans' otherwise decisive 3-1 win that booked their place in the next round against France in April.

"It felt really good to be back at the court. I've been training and it was just exciting to be out there," she said.
It was Serena's first competitive match since winning her 23rd major at the 2017 Australian Open.

The American star took time away from the sport to give birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia and get married, to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

On Sunday she was happy with the power behind her shots even if her accuracy wasn't quite where it should be. But team captain Kathy Rinaldi confirmed her participation after Venus won her singles match against Richel Hogenkamp to seal overall victory for the US.

"Serena's gonna be joining her sister Venus!" she announced, to roars of approval before Williams appeared dressed in a white top, dark blue shorts topped off with a red headband.

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

"To play the two Williams sisters, it's amazing because we won the match," said Kerkhove, 26.

The Dutch players' ability to soak up the pressure was all the more remarkable given that Schuurs, the younger of the pair, was just six-years-old when Serena won her first major tournament.

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