Sport Tennis Serena Williams loses first match back from maternity leave
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Serena Williams loses first match back from maternity leave

Serena Williams at the Fed Cup
Serena Williams had played a competitive match since her 2017 Australian Open triumph. Photo: Getty
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Serena Williams’ return to professional tennis has started with a defeat.

The 36-year-old paired up with her older sister, Venus, in a Fed Cup tie for the United States.

The US had an unassailable 3-0 lead against the Netherlands before the doubles clash, meaning a loss came with no real consequences.

With that in mind, Williams eased into her first competitive match since giving birth, showing several signs of rustiness in what was a straight-sets defeat.

Little-known Dutch pair Demi Schuurs and Lesley Kerkhove proved too good in the clash, winning 6-2 6-3.

“It was really special to be back out here with Venus,” Serena Williams said afterwards.

“We’re so happy Team USA won today … I’m really happy to be here and that we advanced to the next round.”

A special guest was in attendance, too, with the 23-time grand slam winner’s daughter, Alexis Olympia, watching on in Asheville, North Carolina.

“It’s her first match so I’m glad she got to see it,” Serena added.

The star’s husband, Alexis Ohanian, minded the child through the match, even feeding her a bottle at one point.

Williams gave birth in September and this was her first competitive match since she won the Australian Open in 2017.

Serena Williams
Germany will play the Czech Republic in the other Fed Cup semi-final. Photo: AAP

Her time away from tennis was evident in the early stages, particularly when her attempt at a routine volley went drastically awry.

There were some good signs from Williams, too, with a couple of backhands particularly impressive.

But with the tie already sealed, just playing was a positive step for Williams, who has had to endure a series of complications and surgeries since giving birth.

It was also the first time the Williams sisters had played doubles together for the US in a Fed Cup fixture since 2003.

The United States won the tie 3-1, with Venus Williams clinching their success with a straight-sets win over Richel Hogenkamp.

Venus also won on day one, as did Coco Vandeweghe.

The United States will now meet France in April’s Fed Cup semi-finals.

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