After sitting out of competitive tennis for nearly a year, Serena Williams plans to return next month to play for her country.
The United States Tennis Association announced on Tuesday that Williams would join her sister, Venus Williams, on the American Fed Cup team for its first-round tie against the Netherlands on Feb. 10-11, in Asheville, N.C.
Williams’ last match was a victory over Venus Williams in the final of the Australian Open in January 2017. She gave birth to a daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., on Sept. 1 and revealed in an article in Vogue Magazine that she had several complications during labor that required surgical procedures, forcing her to spend six weeks in bed.
In her lone court appearance since giving birth, Williams played an exhibition match on Dec. 30, losing to the French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in Abu Dhabi.
“I don’t know if I am totally ready to come back on the tour yet,” she told reporters after that match. “I know that when I come back I definitely want to be competing for championships.”
In addition to next month’s Fed Cup, she has agreed to play in an exhibition tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 5, and she has stated her desire to play the WTA tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., later that month.
With 23 Grand Slam titles, Williams is one away from matching Margaret Court’s career record, and could compete for that as soon as the French Open, which begins May 27.
Williams has also played in four Olympic Games: in 2000, 2008, 2012 and 2016. In order to be eligible for the Olympics, players must make themselves available to for their Fed Cup team in two of the years leading up to the games. To qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games, Williams would also need to play on, or make herself available for, the 2019 Fed Cup.
Along with the Williams sisters, the U.S.T.A. announced that CoCo Vandeweghe would be on the United States squad, which won the Fed Cup last year for the first time since 2000. The fourth member of the team to face the Netherlands will be chosen later by the U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi.
Serena Williams has played for the U.S. Fed Cup team nine times, most recently in 2015, when she went 2-0 against Italy and 1-0 against Argentina. She is 13-0 all time in Fed Cup singles play and 3-1 in doubles, and helped the U.S. to victory in 1999, her first year as part of the team.
Venus Williams has played on 12 Fed Cup sides, most recently in 2016, and she is 19-2 in singles and 24-4 over all. Vandeweghe went 8-0 last year to lead the U.S. to its 18th championship in a 3-2 win over Belarus in Minsk on Nov. 12.