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Serena Williams' daughter Alexis watches her lose match

By Admin / Published On Monday, 12 Feb 2018 21:28 PM / No Comments / 143 views

As a 39-time Grand Slam winner, she attracts huge crowds whenever she plays.

But on Sunday, there was a particularly special member of the crowd when Serena Williams, 36, played her Fed Cup doubles match in Asheville, North Carolina: her baby daughter.

Alexis Olympia Ohania Jr, five months, was held by her dad, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, 34, as the seven-time Wimbledon champion lost one of her first matches since returning to the game after pregnancy. 

Feeding time! Alexis Ohanian, husband of USA's Serena Williams, holds their baby, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., during her doubles match in the first round of Fed Cup tennis competition in Asheville, N.C.

Feeding time! Alexis Ohanian, husband of USA’s Serena Williams, holds their baby, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., during her doubles match in the first round of Fed Cup tennis competition in Asheville, N.C.

The first step in Serena Williams’ comeback underscored how far she has to go after spending over a year away from the game.

In Williams’ first competition since giving birth five months ago, she and sister Venus lost 6-2, 6-3 to Lesley Kerkhove and Demi Schuurs of the Netherlands in a Fed Cup doubles match Sunday.

“I honestly feel better than I thought I was going to feel,” she said.

Watching mommy play! The adorable child looked on as her famous parent battled it out on the court

Watching mommy play! The adorable child looked on as her famous parent battled it out on the court

USA's Serena Williams returns a shot against the Netherlands during a doubles match in the first round of Fed Cup tennis competition

USA’s Serena Williams returns a shot against the Netherlands during a doubles match in the first round of Fed Cup tennis competition

The U.S. already had clinched a victory in the best-of-five event thanks to a pair of singles victories by Venus Williams, so this doubles loss merely narrowed the final score to 3-1. The U.S. advanced to a World Group semifinal April 21-22 at France, which defeated Belgium 3-2 this weekend.

The clincher came Sunday when Venus Williams won the final five games in a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Richel Hogenkamp. The U.S. had taken a 2-0 lead Saturday when Venus Williams beat Arantxa Rus 6-1, 6-4 and CoCo Vandeweghe rallied from a set and a break down to defeat Hogenkamp 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3.

“Obviously this is an important moment, when you’re playing not just for yourself but your other team members and your captain and your country,” Venus Williams said. “It’s definitely a different kind of pressure.”

On Sunday, there was a particularly special member of the crowd when Serena Williams, 36, played her Fed Cup doubles match in Asheville, North Carolina: her baby daughter

On Sunday, there was a particularly special member of the crowd when Serena Williams, 36, played her Fed Cup doubles match in Asheville, North Carolina: her baby daughter

But this event was most notable for the return of Serena Williams, who hadn’t played competitive tennis since winning the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant for her 23rd career Grand Slam singles title, one off Margaret Court’s record. Her only match since had come in a Dec. 30 exhibition.

Serena’s baby girl was wearing a headband with red and white stripes plus a blue coat Sunday as her father, Alexis Sr. held her just behind the players’ bench.

“I didn’t manage my time well, but I was thinking about it in the future how to manage it better,” Serena Williams said. “This is literally my first time traveling with the baby and everything. I’m going to try to do better. It was hard. It was the first time for me.”

The seven-time Wimbledon champion lost one of her first matches since returning to the game after pregnancy

The seven-time Wimbledon champion lost one of her first matches since returning to the game after pregnancy

The first step in Serena Williams' comeback underscored how far she has to go after spending over a year away from the game

The first step in Serena Williams’ comeback underscored how far she has to go after spending over a year away from the game

Williams had said Friday that this weekend would represent “the start of a long process” as she tries to work her way back. Her pregnancy had complications that made this comeback particularly challenging.

Williams had told Vogue magazine that she developed several small blood clots in her lungs after her daughter was born Sept. 1. The article said that she was unable to get out of bed for the first six weeks after giving birth.

Her doubles match revealed the effects of her long time away from the game. Williams said she hadn’t known what to expect Sunday and acknowledged she needs to improve in all aspects, but she added that “I feel like I’m on the right track.”

“I didn’t expect to have that much power on my serves, even though they didn’t go in,” she said. “It’s just a start. I feel like that’s a very good step in the right direction.”

USA's Venus Williams, left, and Serena Williams, right, pep themselves up as they take the court against Netherlands' Leslie Herkhove and Demi Schuurs

USA’s Venus Williams, left, and Serena Williams, right, pep themselves up as they take the court against Netherlands’ Leslie Herkhove and Demi Schuurs

Netherlands captain Paul Haarhuis said a few more matches should help Williams correct the mistakes she made Sunday.

“I think she’s going to be fine,” Haarhuis said. “She’s got the game, you know.”

Williams’ biggest challenge may be managing expectations as she attempts to work her way back into peak form while balancing tennis and motherhood.

Her goals remain as high as ever.

“I think if I walk out there with low expectations, then I need to stop doing what I do,” she said. “So that’s never going to happen for me. I’m always going to have the best and highest expectations for myself. I’m OK with that because that’s just who I am.”

USA's Serena Williams returns a shot against Netherlands

USA’s Serena Williams returns a shot against Netherlands

USA's Venus Williams, left, and Serena Williams , right, talk between points

USA’s Venus Williams, left, and Serena Williams , right, talk between points

Sunday’s scheduled singles match between Vandeweghe and Rus was scrapped because the outcome of this event already has been decided.

After Venus Williams’ singles victory Sunday, U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi said the Williams sisters would be playing doubles together. The schedule originally called for Serena Williams to play alongside Lauren Davis.

In other Fed Cup action this weekend, the Czech Republic beat Switzerland 3-1 and Germany beat Belarus 3-2. Germany will host the Czech Republic in the other semifinal.

Netherlands' Leslie Kerkhove, right, and Demi Schuurs celebrate after a point

Netherlands’ Leslie Kerkhove, right, and Demi Schuurs celebrate after a point

USA's Venus Williams, right, and Serena Williams, left, celebrate after defeating Netherlands in the first round of Fed Cup tennis competition

USA’s Venus Williams, right, and Serena Williams, left, celebrate after defeating Netherlands in the first round of Fed Cup tennis competition

USA's Venus Williams, right, is congratulated by coach Lisa Raymond, left

USA’s Venus Williams, right, is congratulated by coach Lisa Raymond, left

Team USA, from left, CoCo Vandeweghe, coach Lisa Raymond, Venus Williams, Serena Williams and Lauren Davis celebrate after defeating Netherlands

Team USA, from left, CoCo Vandeweghe, coach Lisa Raymond, Venus Williams, Serena Williams and Lauren Davis celebrate after defeating Netherlands

USA's Lauren Davis, right, carries the flag as teammates, from left, Serena Williams, Venus Williams and CoCo Vandeweghe celebrate

USA’s Lauren Davis, right, carries the flag as teammates, from left, Serena Williams, Venus Williams and CoCo Vandeweghe celebrate

USA's Venus Williams returns a shot against Netherlands' Richel Hogenkamp during a match

USA’s Venus Williams returns a shot against Netherlands’ Richel Hogenkamp during a match

USA's Venus Williams returns a shot against Netherlands' Richel Hogenkamp during a match

USA’s Venus Williams returns a shot against Netherlands’ Richel Hogenkamp during a match

USA's Venus Williams prepares to serve to Netherlands' Richel Hogenkamp

USA’s Venus Williams prepares to serve to Netherlands’ Richel Hogenkamp

Netherlands' Richel Hogenkamp prepares to serve to USA's Venus Williams

Netherlands’ Richel Hogenkamp prepares to serve to USA’s Venus Williams

Netherlands' Richel Hogenkamp returns a shot against USA's Venus Williams

Netherlands’ Richel Hogenkamp returns a shot against USA’s Venus Williams

USA's Serena Williams watches the action, pensive

USA’s Serena Williams watches the action, pensive

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