Serena won’t play singles in return to court

Serena Williams is scheduled to play doubles on Sunday, but will not play singles matches when the Unites States opens its Fed Cup defense against the Netherlands beginning Saturday in Asheville, N.C.

Williams gave birth to her first child five months ago, and skipped last month’s Australian Open after feeling as though she was not prepared to be highly competitive. She is instead scheduled to make her return this weekend, paired with Lauren Davis against Lesley Kerkhove and Demi Schuurs.

Williams holds a 13-0 career singles record in the Fed Cup, and is 3-1 in doubles.

Venus Williams will play Arantxa Rus and Coco Vandeweghe will face Richel Hogerkamp during Saturday’s singles matches. The teams can still alter their lineups ahead of Sunday.

Serena Williams has not played an official match since winning the 2017 Australian Open, after which she announced that she had been pregnant during the tournament.

“She’s been out becoming a new mom, and she’s looking to get back into playing,” U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi said earlier this week. “We saw her play an exhibition at the end of last year, but this is a great way for her to start the year and get a couple matches or a match behind her. …

“It’s a quick turnaround after having her first child. She’s very professional, and she has a lot of pride for playing for her country. She’ll be ready to go.”

Williams needs one more Grand Slam title to tie the record held by Australia’s Margaret Court.

“Maybe this goes without saying, but it needs to be said in a powerful way: I absolutely want more Grand Slams,” Serena Williams recently told Vogue. “I’m well aware of the record books, unfortunately. It’s not a secret that I have my sights on 25.”

Caroline Wozniacki, who captured last month’s Australian Open in Serena Williams’ absence, told ESPN.com, “She’s such an amazing, incredible athlete. I would never write her off. The thing about Serena is she’s never going to come back unless she feels she’s where she wants to be tennis-wise, physically and mentally.”

The United States is the defending Fed Cup champion, having defeated Belarus 3-2 last November in the final at Minsk. Vandeweghe won two singles matches, but American Sloane Stephens lost her two singles matches, leaving the doubles match to determine the title. Vandeweghe then teamed with Shelby Rogers for a straight-sets doubles victory.

In the other Fed Cup first-round ties this weekend, Belarus plays host to Germany in Minsk, Switzerland opposes the Czech Republic in Prague, and Belgium visits France in La Roche-sur-Yon.

The USA-Netherlands winner will meet the France-Belgium winner in the semifinals on April 21 and April 22.

–Field Level Media

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