US off to strong start in Fed Cup defense

The Czech Republic will be looking to its double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the Fed Cup World Group opener against Switzerland in Prague

The Czech Republic will be looking to its double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the Fed Cup World Group opener against Switzerland in Prague

The former world number one, who has not played in more than a year following pregnancy and the birth of her daughter, will partner Lauren Davis in tomorrow's fifth rubber against Dutch duo Lesley Kerkhove and Demi Schuurs.

The 36-year-old has not competed in a Fed Cup tie since April 2015 but felt the event was as good as any to start her comeback under the leadership of US captain Kathy Rinaldi.

For Williams, this weekend will mark the first time she has competed in a Fed Cup tie since April 2015. "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".

'I have long-term goals obviously, but right now my main goal is just to stay in the moment, ' the champion said.

Serena Williams is scheduled to play doubles on Sunday, but will not play singles matches when the United States opens its Fed Cup defense against the Netherlands beginning Saturday in Asheville, N.C. "We try to prepare the best we can every time to handle that honor and pressure".

Although Serena isn't scheduled to play any singles matches this weekend, that could change.

"It's definitely the start of a long process", Serena said.

"She enjoys Fed Cup, and Serena and Venus have been extremely supportive, and it happened to be a good fit".

Sunday's scheduled singles matches have Venus Serena facing Hogerkamp and Vandeweghe taking on Russian Federation. "It goes unsaid 25 (grand slams) is obviously something that I would love, but I'd hate to limit myself".

Baby Alexis Olympia, born in September, was in attendance, too, in the arms of her father, Alexis Ohanian, in the seats right behind them.

A more laboured win followed for the mercurial CoCo Vandeweghe, who lost her first set to Richel Hogenkamp and broke a racket in frustration during the second before fighting back to a 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-3 victory.

Williams will be bidding to emulate Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong and Kim Clijsters, who all won Grand Slam titles after having children, when she returns to the circuit.

The form of the volatile talent Kristina Mladenovic could play a key role in France's fortunes in their home match at La-Roche-sur-Yon against a strong Belgian team that includes Australian Open semi-finalist Elise Mertens.

"It actually is a really flawless opportunity to try to come back", Williams said.

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