ASHEVILLE: Former world number one Serena Williams said she felt on the "right track" despite a crushing loss in her long-awaited comeback to tennis on Sunday playing alongside big sister Venus in a Fed Cup dead rubber.
The duo, who have combined to win 22 doubles titles, were outgunned by the unheralded Dutch pairing of Lesley Kerkhove and Demi Schuurs who were playing in their first ever outing together.
The Williams lost 6-2, 6-3 with 36-year-old Serena appearing particularly slow on her feet and poor in her shot selection after more than a year away from the sport.
But she was determined to put on a brave face after the loss took some of the shine off the Americans' otherwise decisive 3-1 win that booked their place in the next round against France in April.
"It felt really good to be back the court. I've been training and it was just exciting to be out there," she said. "I honestly feel better than I thought I was gonna feel, I feel like I didn't expect to play you know like that for me. So I feel like that I'm on the right track."
It was Serena's first competitive match since winning her 23rd major at the 2017 Australian Open.
The American star took time away from the sport to give birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia and get married, to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.
Both were in attendance over the weekend, seated just behind the players' box.
Serena had previously said that her path back had been full of "ups and downs", crediting Venus with helping her regain her rhythm.
On Sunday she was happy with the power behind her shots even if her accuracy wasn't quite where it should be.
"I didn't expect to have that much power on my serves," she said. "Even though they didn't go in, it's just the start, I feel like that's a very good step in the right direction."
And she hinted she needed to juggle the demands of motherhood against her career better.
"I didn't manage my time well," she said. "This is literally my first time travelling with the baby and everything so I'm gonna try to do better."