Serena Williams to make competitive return to tennis at Fed Cup

American former world No 1 made her first outing since giving birth in an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi in December.

FILE - In this Jan. 28. 2017, file photo, United States' Serena Williams follows through on a backhand return to her sister Venus during the women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia. The U.S. Tennis Association says Williams will return to competition for the first time in more than a year at the country's Fed Cup matches against the Netherlands next month. Williams has not played an official match since winning the Australian Open in January 2017 for her 23rd Grand Slam singles title. She was pregnant during that tournament and gave birth to a daughter on Sept. 1. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung. File)
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Former world No 1 Serena Williams will return to competitive tennis at the Fed Cup next month, the US Tennis Association (USTA) announced on Tuesday.

Williams, 36, has not played competitively since winning the Australian Open last year, after which it was revealed she was pregnant. The American 23-time grand slam champion subsequently missed the rest of the 2017 season and gave birth to her first daughter, Alexis Olympia, last September.

Williams has had one outing since giving birth, playing an exhibition match in December against French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in Abu Dhabi, where she said “it felt good to be back out there. I missed playing, I missed the competition, I missed the crowd, the atmosphere, so it was really nice to be back out there”.


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Williams opted not to defend her Australian Open title, revealing that "after competing in Abu Dhabi I realised that although I am super close, I'm not where I personally want to be".

Williams has now targeted an official return to court for the February 10-11 Fed Cup tie against the Netherlands when the US will begin their title defence of the team competition.

"Serena Williams is set to play her first competitive match in more than a year, when Team USA begins the defense of its Fed Cup crown next month," the USTA announced in a statement.

Serena Williams loses exhibition match at Mubadala World Tennis Championship

Serena Williams loses exhibition match at Mubadala World Tennis Championship

"The 23-time grand slam champion joins seven-time major winner Venus Williams and world No 9 CoCo Vandeweghe on the squad that will face the Netherlands in Asheville, NC, February 10-11.

"US Fed Cup Captain Kathy Rinaldi ... announced the partial squad for the World Group first-round tie Wednesday. Rinaldi will announce the final member of the four-player roster next week. The Netherlands’ team will also be announced next week."

It will be the first time in two years that either Williams sister has been on the US Fed Cup squad. The US women have never lost in eight ties when both Williams sisters have been named to the squad, the most recent of those wins in 2015.