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Venus Williams won as defending champion USA reaches Fed Cup semifinals. Serena Williams makes her return to action.
USA TODAY Sports

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — New mom Serena Williams made her official, if inconsequential, return to tennis by partnering with sister, Venus, in a doubles match that didn’t count toward the end result of the USA’s first-round Fed Cup win against the Netherlands on Sunday.

Venus had already clinched the encounter for Team USA, the Fed Cup reigning champions, by winning the necessary third point of the weekend with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Richel Hogenkamp in the first match of the day.

The Americans earned two points Saturday when Venus defeated Arantxa Rus in straight sets, and CoCo Vandeweghe outlasted Hogenkamp in three sets.

There was hope, probably misguided, ahead of the weekend that Serena would suit up and play singles for the team. But a quick glance at her practice session Friday revealed the 23-time Grand Slam champion was not quite ready for prime time after more than a year away from competition. Her only other on-court appearance was a one-match exhibition in Abu Dhabi in late December.

Williams recently acknowledged she had post-delivery complications, which included blood clots, after giving birth to her first child, daughter Alexis Olympia, in September.

Instead, Venus, and Vandeweghe, absorbed the responsibility for the weekend’s overall 3-1 win that places the USA into the Fed Cup semifinals against France.

Serena was honest from the get-go here about her match readiness and never attempted to hide the fact that practice and not playing a serious singles match would be more appropriate at this juncture.

“There’s been a lot of ups and downs in the practice,” Williams…