Serena Williams Serve Analysis
Serena Williams is arguably the greatest female tennis player to have ever played the game. She has reinvented the game a number of times throughout her glittering career and has 23 grand slam titles to her name.
Serena is famed for her intensity, competitive spirit and unmatched power on the tennis court. The American super star has captivated the minds of millions of tennis fans around the world, always wearing her heart on her sleeve and chasing down every last ball.
Whilst Serena is clearly a very complete tennis player, there is one shot in particular that stands out as her most lethal weapon. Her serve.
Serena has one of the most technically well put together serves in all of professional tennis. Her perfect timing, rhythm, power and disguise make her undoubtedly one of the best servers of all time. She can consistently reach speeds of 125MPH which puts her amongst the biggest servers on the WTA tour.
But, how exactly does Serena have such an amazing serve and what can you learn from her? We answer that and more below!
Serena Through the Years
Serena Williams made a name for herself as a young professional when she knocked out Mary Pierce and Monica Seles (ranked number 7 and number 4 in the world at the time) at the 1997 Ameritech Cup in Chicago.
This was Serena’s first major break through on to the professional circuit. She became the lowest ranked player at 304 to beat 2 top 10 players in the same tournament and she would finish the year ranked inside the world’s top 100.
Following this, Serena produced an unbelievable run at the 1999 US Open, defeating Kim Clijsters, Conchita Martinez, Monica Seles, Lindsey Davenport and Martina Hingis to claim her first grand slam title. This would be an unbelievable accomplishment for any player, let alone a 17 year old ranked number 7 in the world!
This then started an unprecedented run of grand slam wins in the early 2000s, that saw Serena win the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open in 2002, along with Wimbledon in 2003.
She was then plagued by a number of injuries that sidelined her for months on end, before coming back to the game and winning even more grand slam titles between 2005 and 2010 and reclaiming the world number 1 position.
After even more injuries, Serena entered her heyday between 2010 and 2017, winning 12 grand slam titles, 3 end of year championships and an Olympic gold medal during the period! Serena was practically unstoppable on the court at this point, so much so that the only person that could halt her progress was Serena herself!
She missed out on completing the calendar grand slam in 2015, losing to Roberta Vinci in the semifinals of the US Open, having won the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon that year.
From 2017 onwards Serna has entered a new battle, that with history. She has been chasing the all time career singles grand slam titles record, held by Margaret Court at 24 titles. Serena has also had a child in this time, which has of course sidelined her from the sport for some time.
Will Serena end up equalling or surpassing Court’s all time record? Who knows. But what we can definitely say is that Serena has put her own stamp on the tennis world and is certainly one of the greatest tennis champions to have ever played the game.
What Makes Serena Williams’s Serve SO Special?
It is clear to see that Serena Williams is one of the greatest tennis players to ever pick up a racket. Her unbelievable athleticism, strength, speed and flexibility, coupled with her never say die attitude and sheer determination to win has made her a formidable champion.
But, another major key to her success on the court is her booming serve. Serena is well known for her power. She can thump winners from anywhere on the court, possessing unmatched venom on both her forehand and backhand.
It is no surprise therefore that Serena has one of the most powerful serves out there, recording the 3rd fastest ever official serve by a woman at the 2013 Australian Open of 128.6 MPH.
But it is also Serena’s accuracy and consistency that makes her serve so effective. Much like Roger Federer, Nick Kyrgios and Andy Roddick, Serena is able to bring the heat without breaking a sweat, piling the pressure on to her opponents for hours on end.
So, let’s take a closer look at what exactly makes Serena’s serve so great!
As far as technique goes, there aren’t many better out there than Serena! Her trophy position is perfect and she is able to generate a lot of easy power using her pinpoint stance. She places her weight on her front foot as she steps up to serve behind the baseline, then rocks back on to her back foot to create more momentum before she brings both feet together and drives up into her serving motion.
This requires perfect timing and great balance, so the fact that Serena has been able to master this move so effectively gives credit to the hard work she has put in on the practice court over the years.
This is a technique used by some of the world’s biggest servers, including Andy Roddick, John Isner and Riley Opelka. This helps her get extra leverage over the ball as she uses her strong legs to explode off the ground upwards into her swing.
Serena uses great rhythm to reach her trophy position at the perfect time, with as much energy stored up in her muscles ready to be unleashed on to the ball. One of the ways that Serena is able to generate so much power so consistently is by using an optimally placed ball toss.
Not only is her ball toss very consistently placed (making her serve very difficult to read), but she also places the ball well in front of her and high enough so she can get her whole body under the ball before contact.
This ball placement makes a huge difference to her weight transfer, as she is forced to use her legs to jump both upwards and forwards towards the ball, helping her transfer the most amount of power possible from her racket into the ball.
Serena also utilises a full unit turn as she serves, which again helps her to create a great deal of power and spin by using her body as effectively as possible. She almost has her back to the court as she serves, and is then able to uncoil herself very quickly to unleash her insane racket head speed on to the ball.
Moreover, Serena’s service motion is helped by her left hip movement as she throws the ball up in the air. She is able to keep her throwing arm very straight which helps with her body alignment, but the fact that she can kick out her left hip so far, such that it is beyond her left hand, helps her to get even more knee bend and forwards weight transfer into her serve.
This is something to look out for next time you are studying the service motion of your favourite players. Look for how they use their legs and hips and you will get a good idea of just how much effort goes into those big serves!
Power and Consistency
As we have mentioned, one of Serena’s biggest assets is her ability to produce such powerful serves time after time! This shows how efficient her technique is, as she is able to consistently hit serves over 120MPH without tiring!
In fact, during the 2012 Wimbledon championships, Serena hit 102 aces throughout the tournament which was more than any men hit throughout the tournament. This is a significant achievement given how many more aces tend to be hit in the men’s game.
Of course, the brute force of Serena’s serve is a thing to behold. She is able to blow her opponents off the court, often playing the game completely on her own terms. She can take the racket out of her opponents’ hands and is very capable of setting up short returns to put away with her massive forehand.
But more than the sheer power is the consistency with which it can be delivered.
Thanks to her near perfect technique and timing, she is able to generate high speed serves late into matches where her opponents may start to tire. This allows her to shorten the points and conserve a lot of energy, which is a major contributing factor to her ongoing success in grand slam events.
Many grand slams champions will say that you can’t win a grand slam in the first week but you can certainly lose it. This makes reference to the need for consistency and getting through matches with as little energy expended as possible, which is something Serena’s huge serve has allowed her to do time after time.
Another key element to the Serena Williams serve is its pin point accuracy. She is able to find her spots with power and precision throughout tournaments, making her serve very difficult to return.
The speed at which she delivers both her first and second serves gives her opponents little time to react, whilst her ability to find acute angles in the service box means her opponents have to stretch to even get a racket on the ball.
Serena’s accuracy can be put down to her champion’s mindset. She has clearly put in countless hours on the practice court and is able to reliably find her spots even in the most pressurised situations. She is also able to block out any doubts or distractions as she steps up to the line and serves, owing to her supreme concentration and focus when she is on the match court.
However, the combination of power, consistency and accuracy is what really sets Serena’s serve apart from the rest. Roger Federer has one of the most accurate and consistent serves of all time, but some would argue he lacks out and out power.
Whereas, Andy Roddick had one of the most powerful serves ever (holding the world record of 155MPH for over a decade), but some players were able to read his serve and block it back to neutralise the point straight from the return.
Serena on the other hand is able to serve with some of the most brutal power we’ve seen in either the men’s or woman’s game, whilst remaining incredibly accurate and consistent thanks to her flawless technique.
Overall, Serena Williams possesses one of the most powerful, accurate and technically sound serves the world of tennis has ever seen. She is able to pull out huge serves when she most needs them and her serve has led her to 23 grand slam titles.
One of the stand out features of her serve is her trophy position, which is technically flawless. She gets into this position with a slight lag in her hitting arm, which creates even more racket head speed and momentum in her serving motions.
This, in turn, helps Serena to produce more power and spin than any of her rivals, which gives her an almost unfair advantage when it comes to her service games.
She has reinvented the game of tennis a number of times, and the cornerstone of her impressive game is her fearsome serve. She sets up her aggressive ground strokes with this huge weapon and clearly has a lot of confidence in her ability to produce big serves on the biggest stages at the biggest moments.
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