Fed Cup: Serena Williams ready for much-awaited comeback against the Netherlands, says US captain Kathy Rinaldi

Asheville: Serena Williams will be "ready to go" when she returns to action this week in the United States' Fed Cup first round tie against the Netherlands, captain Kathy Rinaldi said on Wednesday.

Williams has not played a WTA tournament since she won the Australian Open title last year and skipped this year's opening grand slam due to concerns about her fitness four months after giving birth to her first child.

(FILES) This file photo taken on January 25, 2017 shows, Serena Williams of the US reacting after a point against Britain's Johanna Konta during their women's singles quarter-final match on day ten of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne. Former world number one Serena Williams will make her much-anticipated competitive return with an exhibition match on the final day of the Mubadala exhibition event on December 30, tournament organisers announced on December 24, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL CROCK / IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE

File photo of Serena Williams. AFP

Rinaldi said she expects Williams, who was named in the US squad that will compete on an indoor hard court in Asheville, North Carolina, to make a smooth transition in her return to competitive tennis.

"Serena's just coming back. She played an exhibition in (December) and it's incredible," Rinaldi told a news conference at the US Cellular Center in Asheville.

"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 to go."

Williams, 36, has played once since winning an Open-era record 23rd grand slam singles title in Melbourne last year, losing to Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko in an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi last December.

For Williams, this weekend will mark the first time she has competed in a Fed Cup tie since April 2015. She owns a 13-0 singles record and 3-1 doubles record in Fed Cup competition.

She heads a team made up of older sister Venus, World No 17 CoCo Vandeweghe and World No 62 Lauren Davis. The United States beat Belarus last year for a record-extending 18th Fed Cup title, their first in 17 years.

The Netherlands squad is comprised of World No 108 Richel Hogenkamp, Arantxa Rus (124), Lesley Kerkhove (165) and Demi Schuurs, who is ranked 32nd in doubles.

Netherlands captain Paul Haarhuis said his squad would have to pull off what he felt might be "the biggest upset in US tennis history" to win.

"If you look at Serena, how often does she lose to someone that's not ranked in the Top 10 or Top 20 or outside the Top 100?" said Haarhuis. "The odds are not good, but we do believe that it’s possible.

"We're the underdogs by far, that won't change if they bring in five new players, we're still the underdogs, but we still have to believe that it can be possible."

Play begins on Saturday with two singles matches and will continue on Sunday with two reverse singles matches and the doubles match.

The winner advances to the 21-22 April semi-finals.

Updated Date: Feb 08, 2018 12:11 PM

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