ASHEVILLE, NC, USA - Though the result didn't matter in the end in more ways than one, Serena Williams made her official return to competitive tennis in Fed Cup on Sunday.
The former World No.1 partnered sister Venus in doubles for the first time since the Rio Olympics in 2016 to close out the World Group Quarterfinal tie between the United States and the Netherlands at US Cellular Arena.
The 14-time Grand Slam doubles champions were defeated by Demi Schuurs and Lesley Kerkhove, 6-2, 6-3 in a dead doubles rubber.
Earlier, Venus defeated Richel Hogenkamp, 7-5, 6-1 to give the United States an unassailable 3-0 lead in the tie and send the U.S. into April's semifinals against France.
Another victory by Venus over Arantxa Rus and a win by CoCo Vandeweghe over Hogenkamp on Saturday helped give the United States a 2-0 lead after the first day of play.
Sunday's match marked Serena's first appearance in Fed Cup play since the World Group Playoffs in 2015, in which she contested three rubbers and the United States was defeated by Italy in Italy, 3-2.
Sunday's match marked the second time that the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion has taken the court for a tennis match of any kind since the birth of daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr. in September, but the first which counts officially on her record.
In December, Serena faced Jelena Ostapenko in an exhibition match at the 10th annual Mubadala World Tennis Championships, which was won by the Latvian in a deciding match tiebreak, 6-2, 3-6, 10-5.
“It was really special to be back out here with Venus and we’re so happy Team USA won today,” Serena told reporters after the match, per fedcup.com.
“I’m really happy to be here and that we advanced to the next round. It’s [Olympia's] first match so I’m glad she got to see it."
The U.S. will head to France in April’s semifinals for an away tie for the next step in its Fed Cup title defense.