Everyone talks about Serena’s dominance, but no one says, or seems to want to say, why.
At any women’s tourney, the first thing you might notice is that female tennis players look very different from the average woman their age, even college students, who may be into working out just to look good. And yet male players look no bigger than the average in-shape college male? Why is that?
Pro female tennis players have far larger calves, thighs, and glutes, plus, have larger upper arms and forearms, and some even have larger deltoids. On the other hand, male players, usually only have larger forearms, and very thick calves. Otherwise, they look like any other 20-something college male.
Looking at Serena, it is obvious that she has bigger deltoids, upper arms, and forearms than any other player except for Sam Stosur. And who are the two female players that everyone points out as having serves like men? Serena and Sam Stosur. But both are only 5’8”, yet they serve as big as most male players who are much taller. What they lack in leverage, they make-up for with awesome racquet head speed, great explosion off the ground, and massive wrist strength to pound the ball.
It’s obvious that Serena can do things that others can’t do. She serves bigger. She changes direction of the ball better. She volleys better. And….she almost exclusively hits open stance on both groundies and return of serve.
Serena has the best first serve in women’s tennis, and Stosur has the best second serve. Their racquet head speeds and ability to use their wrists to throw the racquet head at the ball or to grind the ball for spin, have no equal among other players. Serena has so much confidence while serving that she stated in her press conference after the finals, “I thought to myself, Look, Serena, you’ve just got to hit aces. That’s your only choice. I just had to hit aces. That’s just what I did.” No other champion, Evert, Navratilova, nor Graf ever made that statement!
Serena’s wrist strength is what allows her to change direction of the ball, and still hit with pace. Players who rally deep crosscourt, are invariably beaten down the line, and when she receives a down the line shot, a little flick and the ball is sent crosscourt out of her opponent’s reach. Since she hits open stance on both sides, she is rarely pulled outside the singles court, as she doesn’t lose two steps to set-up and two steps to recover. But she doesn’t get away with that simply because her legs are so strong; she just trains that way and has the coordination to do it on her backhand side while unweighting on her left leg. Most other players are closing their stance, putting themselves too far away from Serena’s down the line backhand shots, which are usually winners.
Lastly, Serena’s open stance return of serves allow her to be highly dynamic as she jumps off her outside leg, throws her shoulder forward, and rips the racquet through and up the back of the ball. Her returns frequently are just hit for winners, and since she so easily holds serve, she can be more aggressive, especially on important points as she did against Sharapova in the finals.
Now if some of the men took note of what Serena does, beefed-up their arms, shoulders, thighs, and glutes….just imagine…..
This first blog post is dedicated to media and public relations expert, Dr. Diane Dobry. I thank you for having my back in this endeavor!