Venus seals Fed Cup win, ready to join Serena in doubles

Venus Williams of Team USA serves to Richel Hogenkamp of the Netherlands on February 11, 2018 in Asheville, North Carolina
AFP

Asheville (United States) (AFP) – Venus Williams sealed victory for defending champions the United States in their Fed Cup tie against the Netherlands Sunday and was poised to play alongside younger sister Serena, making her long-awaited comeback, in the dead-rubber doubles.

The surprise announcement came after seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus shook off a scratchy start in which she squandered an early 3-0 lead to allow Dutch opponent Richel Hogenkamp to draw level at 3-3, before fighting back to prevail 7-5 in the first set.

A demoralized Hogenkamp, who had used a combination of accurate serves and deft slices to hold her own in the first set, went down tamely in the second, 6-1.

Venus credited teammate CoCo Vandeweghe, who scored a hard fought win over Hogenkamp the day before, for paving the way.

“Honestly I like to think CoCo wore her down some. That gave me an opportunity to be able to close it out for the USA,” 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.

Team captain Kathy Rinaldi then announced the Williams sisters would play together in the doubles tie against Lesley Kerkhove and Demi Schuurs, in what will likely be a victory lap before the home crowd in Asheville, North Carolina.

Serena will be playing her first competitive match since winning her 23rd Grand Slam title at the 2017 Australian Open.

The 36-year-old American took time away from the sport to give birth to her daughter and get married.  

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