Venus Williams claimed victory in the 1000th singles match of her storied career by hammering Arantxa Rus in the United States' Fed Cup tie with Netherlands.
BC-TEN-Fed Cup, 1st Ld, 130Venus Williams gives United States 1-0 lead over Netherlands in Fed CupAP Photo NCCB106Eds: Corrects spelling of Hogenkamp in 3rd paragraph Will be updated after 2nd match. One of those matches proved much closer than the other.
Earlier in the day, Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic made a tearful return to the Fed Cup, admitting her team's 2-0 lead over Switzerland in Prague had been inspired by a moving tribute to fellow All England Club champion Jana Novotna.
Asked whether she will be at the French Open in May she said: "I don't know". "It's just great to play the game that I love". I want them, but I don't need them.
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In the second singles, Vandeweghe rallied from a set down, winning the second in tense tie-breaker before finding her range against Richel Hogenkamp in a 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-3 victory. The players exchanged breaks in the first five games of the second set.
"I'd probably chalk it up to rust", said Vandewegh, who is ranked 17th.
"I think I'm playing well".
Williams had initially targeted last month's Australian Open for a comeback, but abandoned that ambitious goal after declaring she was not 'where I personally want to be. In front of a packed and roaring home crowd in mountainous Asheville, North Carolina, Williams won the toss and served first, closing out the opening game with a searing ace in an early show of intent.
Play begins on Saturday with two singles matches and will continue on Sunday with two reverse singles matches and the doubles match. Sunday's scheduled singles matches have Venus Williams facing Hogerkamp and Vandeweghe taking on Rus.
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U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi said the Fed Cup was the flawless venue for Williams to launch her comeback.
Williams was beaten in straight sets and appeared a little slow on her feet, even as she played some fine shots. She played that tournament while pregnant. I started playing better in the second set.
"I was trying to find the balance between going big and going too big. I definitely have. Yeah, just trekking on, we keep doing the same thing". "I kind of just decided I'm going to sit here and run".
"It's never a win until it's over", she said.
During Friday's press conference, Serena mentioned her interaction with Green. But this weekend's headline is the return of Serena Serena, who participated in a Dec.30 exhibition match but otherwise hasn't played since that 2017 Australian Open. She became the first American ever to win six Fed Cup singles matches in one year since the World Group format was introduced in 1995.
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Belarus, 2017's runners-up, were level at 1-1 with Germany after the opening day in Minsk.
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