Serena makes Fed Cup return, top seeds Belarus eliminated
Serena Williams made her return to competitive tennis in the Fed Cup on Sunday, while top seeds Belarus were eliminated from the World Group.
Williams has - a December exhibition aside - been out of action since winning last year's Australian Open final, taking a year out to give birth to daughter Alexa.
As it turned out on Sunday, United States had already won their clash with Netherlands by the time Williams was due to team with Lauren Davis for the doubles rubber.
With nothing riding on the match, sister Venus - Serena's opponent in Melbourne - stepped in for Davis in a rubber the siblings lost 6-2 6-3 to Lesley Kerkhove and Demi Schuurs.
Venus earlier beat Richel Hogenkamp in her 1,000th professional singles match to send the US into an unassailable 3-0 lead, while the singles rubber between CoCo Vandeweghe and Arantxa Rus was not played.
The defending champions will now face France in the semi-finals following a 3-2 win for the fourth seeds over Belgium.
Last year's runners-up Belarus felt the absence of Victoria Azarenka badly as they lost 3-2 to Germany.
A win apiece for Tatjana Maria and Aryna Sabalenka set up a deciding doubles rubber in Minsk, with Anna-Lena Gronefeld teaming up with Maria to seal a come-from-behind win that eliminated their hosts.
Czech Republic wait in the next round after Petra Kvitova's win against Belinda Bencic put the match beyond Switzerland.