Do you want to become a seasoned tennis player?
Then you need to learn from the professional. One of the famous and greatest tennis players is Serena Williams.
Serena Williams has 4 Olympic Gold Medals, 13 Grand Slam Women’s Doubles Titles, and 23 Grand Slam Singles Titles.
Serena has a maximum serve speed of about 128.6 mph, which is the third-fastest recorded serve speed from a female tennis player.
Serena Williams has been a dominant force in the tennis industry for about 20 years now.
She holds the record for the most Grand Slam Tournament Wins in the open era, she tops the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) ranking, and ranks third on the all-time women’s list.
Those are some of the qualifications of Serena Williams to date. However, what this post will focus on are the tactics and techniques that Serena Williams uses that has made her consistently remain a pro and great tennis player.
What Grip Does Serena Williams Use?
Before discussing what grip Serena Williams uses, it is important to discuss about the different grips available. There are four main types of forehand grips in the tennis game. These are:
- Western grip
- Semi-Western grip
- Eastern grip
- Continental grip
The Western grip was the most popular of the forehand grips in the early 20th century as well as the Continental grip. A popular contemporary grip is the semi-Western.
Most pro tennis players, such as Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal prefer to use the semi-Western forehand grip.
The most modern tennis forehand grip is the Eastern grip and this is what professional players like Roger Federer and Serena Williams are known for.
Hence, Serena Williams uses an Eastern forehand grip whenever she serves for power, unlike others that use the semi-Western and Continental grips.
The Eastern forehand grip brings the racket strings into more direct, perpendicular contact with the tennis ball, giving the tennis ball a direct smack.
The more the racket strings smack the tennis ball directly, the more power you’ll hit with and the less spin your ball will make – as opposed to brushing across the ball.
How to Find the Eastern Forehand Grip?
Follow these steps to achieve the Eastern forehand grip:
- Look down at your racket from the bottom of the handle.
- There are eight angles on the handle, and each angle is called a bevel.
- The blade of your racket lines up with bevel number 1 at the top.
- Now count to the right to find bevel number 3 and place the base of your index finger knuckle there to find an Eastern forehand grip.
Once you’ve set up the Eastern forehand grip, then follow this Serena’s three-step method for executing a perfect forehand.
- First, turn back, ensure that the surface of your racket is open and slightly angled to hit the tennis ball.
- Next, reach head. This is the preparation for the contact point between racket and ball.
- Finally, follow through. A strong follow through will help in determining the strength of the stroke.
Why Serena Williams Uses the Eastern Forehand Grip?
Nowadays, heavy topspin and more radical forehand grips are the order of the day.
As a result, Serena Williams decided to stick to a more traditional grip – the Eastern grip – and this has obviously been working very well for her.
Serena Williams derives most of her playing power from this grip and swing, allowing her to hit deep returns that take her opponents way out of position on both sides of the court.
Serena usually starts her forehand stroke low, then she’ll hit through the tennis ball heavily and finishes with her racket arm up over her opposite shoulder after the stroke.
Another important thing to note about Serena Williams is her grip size. Grip sizes used by professional tennis players have been in the focus of attention in the last couple of years.
While Rafael Nadal has a grip size of a 4 1/4in., Serena Williams has a grip size of 4 5/8in".
Most people consider this difference in grip size as a mere personal preference. However, there are arguments that the grip size aids in creating arm comfort and easy spin.
That is, a racket with a smaller grip would help you to generate more spin.
More so, we also have lighter rackets with open string pattern frames nowadays that make it easier for tennis players to put more spin on the tennis ball.
These lighter rackets have a smaller grip that helps tennis players to whip the racket head faster. The smaller grip usually achieves this in two ways:
- Tennis players can slide the heel of their hands off the end of the racket, making the racket effectively longer and allowing for more snap, especially on the serve.
- The smaller grip allows for more wrist snap for groundstrokes using modern western forehand grips and open-stance hitting styles.
Older and heavier rackets require larger grips so that tennis players can control the racket, especially on off-center hits. Heavier rackets with smaller grips can also create arm discomfort.
Now it can be seen why Serena Williams uses a racket with a larger grip size – her racket is heavier.
Serena Williams has been using a Wilson racket all through her career. Now Serena has her custom-made racket – the Serena Williams Blade 104 Autograph racket – which was designed in 2017.
Serena Williams’ racket is packed with lots of power. With the racket, Serena can hit a heavy ball and give the biggest serve of all time in the women’s tennis game.
This racket has undoubtedly helped her to get her 23rd grand slam titles in singles, 14 in doubles, and two in mixed doubles – a total of 39 grand slams!
Remember, Serena Williams’ racket is an oversize racket, having a head size of 104 square inches. This gives her a larger sweet spot and enables her to hit the tennis ball with pace.
So you want to play like Serena Williams, here is the specification of her racket. You can get a very similar racket for your tennis game.
Serena Williams Racket Specification
- Head size: 104sq. in. that about 671sq. cm.
- Length: 27.7in. that about 70.4cm.
- Strung weight: 11.7oz. that is about 330grm.
- Strung balance: 340mm
- Stiffness: 61
- Grip size: L5 (4 5/8in)
- Grip type: Wilson Synthetic + Overgrip
- String pattern: 18 Mains/19 Crosses
- Paint: Wilson BLX Blade 104 (100 yr logo)
- Silicone: No (epoxy filled)
- Lead: No (at least not visible)
- Swing weight: 366
As you can see above, Serena Williams’ racket does not only have a larger head size than most other rackets, but it also has one of the heftiest swing weights in the women’s tennis game.
However, Serena has recently changed her racquet from Wilson in the Australian Open.
Her new racket is called “SW102 Autograph racquet.” This new racket has a smaller head size than her previous SW104 Autograph racquet.
The SW102 Autograph racquet was co-developed with Serena as the best tool for her game.
From the post above, you now have the understanding that Serena Williams uses an Eastern forehand grip and hits the tennis ball flat and hard.
While Serena doesn’t add lots of finesse to her game, her timing of the tennis ball is superb and second to none.
She is also a fierce fighter with an extraordinary mental strength – how else would she have won 23 grand slam titles on the court. Will Serena reach number 24?
Considering how Serena often manages to get to the finals, she should be able to reach number 24.
However, the women’s tennis game is getting more competitive than ever and Serena will likely face tough competition for the slams in 2020.