How to smack a serve like Serena
Younger sister Venus apart, Serena Williams has the biggest serve in the women's game. Here's how she does it.
Lets face it, most of us would be happy with a cannonball serve like Serena’s even the guys out there! Coaching editor Dave Sammel breaks the shot down into elements we can all learn from
Serena is relaxed as she eases the racket down and loads her weight back onto her right leg. Notice that her legs are shoulder-width apart to provide a solid base. Her weight rocks onto her back leg to give her rhythm and to begin the process of pushing down into the ground for power.
As her left arm moves slowly upwards her bodyweight begins to ease forward and her legs begin to bend. Notice that she tosses the ball just in front of her. Her left arm is fully extended to ensure a high enough ball toss.
Her knees bend and her right leg draws in closer to the left to the point where she can gather maximum ground force the ability to push up from the court. Her heels are raised so she can spring off the ground and up through the ball.
Serena pushes off the ground up to the contact point. Notice how disciplined she is in keeping her head up and how her eyes are focused on the ball. Even after contact she is still in the air – her strong muscle stabilisers (abdominals and rhomboids) have prevented her upper body from collapsing.
Serena has made contact with the ball at the peak of the toss and her head is still up (this is key for consistent serving). Her racket head speed pulls her body into the court.
Serena lands inside the baseline and, again, notice her perfect head position, which stays up throughout the whole service action shes always looking forward. Notice how Serenas back leg has shot backwards and that her back is straight – this ensures perfect balance and stabilises her for her next shot.
Dave’s three essential serving tips
Stay relaxed before you serve to ensure a smooth ball toss. Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart for a solid base from which to generate power. Try to make contact with the ball at the top of the toss with your head up.
Your coach: Dave Sammel
Dave is Director of Tennis at the MCTA Group (a touring academy for international pros aged 16-plus) and has been a coach on the professional circuit for the last 18 years. He has vast experience in coaching international players, many of whom have represented Great Britain and South Africa in the Davis Cup and at the Olympics. Visit www.mctagroup.com for more details.