Serena Williams is ready for her return to competitive tennis this weekend, US team captain Kathy Rinaldi says.
The American is due to return on Saturday having not played a tournament in over a year, since winning the Australian Open in January 2017.
Rinaldi has named Williams in the US squad that will take on the Netherlands on an indoor North Carolina hard court in the World Group first round this weekend.
“Serena's just coming back,” Rinaldi said of the Asheville return. “She played an exhibition in [December] and it's incredible. It's a quick turnaround after having her first child. She’s very professional and she has a lot of pride in playing for her country. She'll be ready.“
The 36-year-old, tipped this week by former men’s World No.1 Andy Murray to win Wimbledon this summer, is competing in her first Fed Cup tie since April 2015 and has won all 13 of her singles matches in the competition. She holds a 3-1 doubles record.
The 23-time Grand Slam winner leads a team including elder sister Venus, CoCo Vandeweghe and Lauren Davis. The US won a record 18th Fed Cup title last year in beating Belarus in Minsk.
“We're the underdogs by far,” admitted Netherlands captain Paul Haarhuis. “How often does [Serena] lose to someone not ranked in the top 10 or 20? The odds are not good, but we still have to believe that it can be possible.”
The Dutch squad includes World No.108 Richel Hogenkamp, Arantxa Rus , Lesley Kerkhove  and Demi Schuurs, ranked 32nd in doubles. The winner of this weekend’s tie moves on to April’s semifinal.