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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Serena Williams upbeat despite losing return to competitive tennis with sister Venus in the Fed Cup

Former world No 1 says she plans to work on managing her time better now that she is a mother.

Serena Williams lost on her return to competitive tennis in the Fed Cup doubles with sister Venus. Chuck Burton / AP Photo
Serena Williams lost on her return to competitive tennis in the Fed Cup doubles with sister Venus. Chuck Burton / AP Photo

Serena Williams was understandably far from her best in her return to competition on Sunday but she said it was a positive step toward her goal of returning to the pinnacle of her sport.

Williams, playing her first official match since having a baby, and older sister Venus were beaten in a dead doubles rubber by the Netherlands in the Fed Cup in Asheville, North Carolina, but walked away feeling upbeat.

"I honestly feel better than I thought I was going to feel," said Williams, who before Sunday had not played a competitive match since her 2017 Australian Open victory.

"I feel like I didn't expect to play, you know, like that for me. I feel like I'm on the right track."

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Williams, who gave birth to her first child last September, showed glimpses of both her prowess and rust during the 6-2, 6-3 loss to Demi Schuurs and Lesley Kerkhove.

"I didn't know what to expect. Maybe that's why I felt like I did better. I didn't expect to ...have that much power on my serves, even though they didn't go in," said Williams. "It's just a start. I feel like that's a very good step in the right direction."

Despite the loss, it was a positive step for Williams, who gave birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia in September.

Still, the 36-year-old American said she came into the tie with high expectations.

"If I walk out there with low expectations, then I need to stop doing what I do. So that's never going to happen for me," said Williams "I'm always going to have the best and highest expectations for myself."

The rubber had no impact on the best-of-five tie as it was played after Venus gave the United States an insurmountable 3-0 lead that put the reigning champions into the April 21-22 semi-finals against France.

Williams, who played an exhibition match in December at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, where she lost to French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, said in addition to working on her serve and returns, she needs to manage her time better now that she has her daughter in tow.

"I didn't manage my time well, but I was thinking about it in the future how to manage it better," said Williams, whose daughter was among those in the sellout crowd. "This is literally my first time traveling with the baby and everything. I'm going to try to do better. It was hard. It was the first time for me."