Serena Williams talked about aiming for “perfection.” When she announced her intention to retire from professional tennis earlier this month, she wrote in Vogue, “I know flawless doesn’t exist.” But whatever my idea was, I didn’t want to give up until I achieved it. Williams’ serve, which is the most fundamentally sound part of her game, maybe the closest a tennis stroke can be to statistical perfection.
The Once-In-A-Lifetime Serve of Serena Williams
Fans will be able to enjoy this brilliant move this week when she competes in her final U.S. Open and attempts to tie Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam victories. Williams’s serve has supported her 23 Grand Slam triumphs, which is the most of any player during the Open Era. It is fluid like water but strong like a jackhammer.
That distinctive strike marked the beginning and the end of her power. When she won an absurdly high proportion of first serve points, the Grand Slam victories came easily; when her first serve was slightly off, it was more difficult. Williams, who was 14 years old at the time, decided to pursue a career in tennis after her older sister Venus.
Due to the WTA’s tardy adoption of match data in 2008, the first 13 years of her remarkable career—during which she won six major championships—are unfortunately lost. But it has become increasingly clear that Serena controls the serving categories since 2008.
Williams dominated the serving game, making it nearly impossible for opponents to gain ground against her. If an opponent was fortunate enough to see a second serve, they frequently observed a huge kick serve. She would make it more difficult for her opponents to make a strong return by switching the serve’s spin from slice to topspin.
Williams isn’t the career leader in the percentage of second serve points won, but she’s still at the top, hovering around 50%, which is a sign of excellence in that stat category. Her strong first serve victory percentage compares favourably to that of her male rivals, including legends like Rafael Nadal (72%), Novak Djokovic (74%), and Roger Federer (77%) who all excel in this area.
Williams’ serve was the best ever, according to her former coach Patrick Mouratoglou. Her serve appears to have been the greatest in the women’s game according to the statistics. In 2013, she had a top speed of 128.6 mph while averaging 106 mph. When compared to her male competitors, Williams’ serve speed frequently outpaced them.
Williams’s former coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, referred to it as the best service ever. Her serve was undoubtedly the finest in the women’s game, according to the statistics. She recorded the fastest speed in 2013 at 128.6 mph and averaged 106 mph. Williams frequently served more quickly than her male peers.
Her fastest serve at the Australian Open in 2021 (125.5 mph) was faster than that of 52 men competing in the event and matched Nadal’s best at the same tournament. She may be fast, but her consistency with her service is more significant. She performed a serve tens of thousands of times over the course of 27 years with a consistently dependable motion.
She is still standing, with her knees unbroken and her shoulder unbroken, which is a testament to its effectiveness. Serena possesses the rare ability to ace a serve that travels less than 90 miles per hour in the same precise motion as a service that travels 120 miles per hour down the T from the same location.
For the returner, who can only estimate, this makes it practically impossible, according to Joseph Oyebog, a former hitting partner of the Williams sisters early in their careers. Williams has credited the specifics for the regularity of her serve. She always bounces the ball twice before the first serve and five times before the second serves as part of her pre-serve ritual.
She never keeps a second ball hidden. Due to her usage of a finger roll, her famous toss has been scrutinized for its uncannily consistent placement. Ana Ivanova and other strong servers in the women’s game never managed to toss consistently. Williams has never had a hitch in his backswing, which is neither too lengthy nor too short.
Physics researchers have examined her footwork and arm extension to learn more about how effective her serve is. She holds her racket differently than most players, using an Eastern forehand grip for greater power. Her timing mimics the bowhunter’s cadence of slow, slow, slow, quick. Williams said that her 128.6 mph fastest serve at the 2013 Australian Open was “my fastest that got in.” I’ve hit a few 150s, but they are obviously sky-high. No doubt.
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