Fed Cup: Venus Williams, CoCo Vandeweghe give US commanding lead over Netherlands

Violet Powell
February 12, 2018

The 36-year-old superstar has not played a competitive match since winning the last of her 23 Grand Slam titles at the Australian Open last year, where she was in the early stages of pregnancy.

Serena Williams returns to tennis after a year-long absence today, with all eyes on the former world number one as she sets out on her quest to reclaim her position at the pinnacle of her sport.

Like Serena, Venus is competing as part of Team USA, and won her singles match against Arantxa Rus from the Netherlands, handing the lead to the Americans.

'We saw her play an exhibition at the end of last year, but this is a great way for her to start the year and get a couple matches or a match behind her.

"I don't really know about these milestones when they happen", she said. One of those matches proved much closer than the other. "I haven't played a competitive match in quite a few weeks, so I'm definitely not going to be ideal out there, no matter how much I'd like myself to be".

"Honestly, I'd like to think CoCo wore her out some", Venus Williams said after her own victory over Hogenkamp.

Sunday's scheduled singles matches have Venus Serena facing Hogerkamp and Vandeweghe taking on Russian Federation. The crowd enthusiastically cheered on the Williams sisters throughout the match against Demi Schuurs and Lesley Kerkhove, but it was the Netherlands who ended the tie with a 6-2, 6-3 victory.

After holding serve in the second game of the match, Rus wouldn't win her serve again until she already had lost the first set and was down a break in the second.

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Before the doubles match started, the USA team celebrated its triumph over the Netherlands.

But Venus Williams, the fourth American woman to record 20 or more singles victories in the competition, saved a break point in the opening game and soon went 3-1 up.

"I thought maybe a few of my balls were flying a little bit", Williams said.

"I didn't start good". I think that created some opportunities in the second set, too. "Sometimes it looked like they were about to go out, but they landed in so I was lucky". "I kind of just decided I'm going to sit here and run".

Vandewegh turned things around from there and overcame 12 double-faults to continue her recent Fed Cup success. Defending champion won its 150th Fed Cup tie as Venus beat 75 61 Richel Hogenkamp.

Elise Mertens, who made the Australian Open semi-finals last month, gave Belgium the first point by easing past Pauline Parmentier 6-2, 6-1 before Kristina Mladenovic pulled France level with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Kirsten Flipkens.

Elsewhere, the Czech Republic, winners in five of the last seven years, ended day one of their tie in Prague against Switzerland 2-0 ahead after Petra Kvitova beat Viktorija Golubic in three sets before Barbara Strycova eased past Belinda Bencic.

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