Serena Williams, playing her first official match since having a baby, and older sister Venus were beaten in a doubles dead rubber by Holland in the Fed Cup in Asheville, North Carolina, yesterday morning (Singapore time). This is also first time the sisters have played doubles together in this tournament since 2003.
They lost 6-2, 6-3 to the Dutch pairing of Lesley Kerkhove and Demi Schuurs, with 36-year-old Serena appearing particularly slow on her feet and rusty after more than a year away from the sport.
Every mom who's ever tried to ease back into exercise a few months after giving birth-especially after a hard C-section-knows how much of a challenge it can be to just pull on a pair of shorts, throw your hair in a messy bun, and take those first few tentative steps. "That gave me an opportunity to be able to close it out for the US", she said."There was a lot of pressure for me to close it out, for her to be able to stay in, and I was able to handle it a little better", she added. "I honestly feel better than I thought I was gonna feel, I feel like I didn't expect to play you know like that for me". I feel like I'm on the right track.
But she was determined to put on a courageous 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. "There was a lot of pressure for me to close it out, for her to be able to stay in, and I was able to handle it a little better", she added.
Serena's daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., was wearing a headband with red and white stripes plus a blue coat Sunday as her father, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, held her just behind the players' bench.
"To play the two Williams sisters, it's wonderful because we won the match", said Kerkhove. This was her first competitive action since her delivery.
In the absence of seventh-ranked Caroline Garcia, who is declining to play for France as she focuses on her singles career, the 13th-ranked Mladenovic led the way by winning both her singles.
"Maybe that's why I felt like I did better", Williams said.