Reviewing Wimbledon Champion Serena Williams’ “Masterclass”
Chris de Waard, Tennis Atlantic
*Editors note: The following is a review of Serena Williams’ Masterclass tennis training course, which was graciously provided to us for review by Masterclass a company that is the leader in instructional videos in various activities from the professionals themselves.
Serena Williams’ MasterClass brings the tennis insights of one of the greatest athletes of all-time to the public in ten lessons, providing close to three hours of video material. It’s wrong to think of this as boring and theoretical tennis lessons. Everything is done in a light-hearted manner, with plenty of room for Serena to share not only her views on the tennis sport, but also on life in general, all with a fair share of humor thrown in the mix.
The classes start off with an introduction, in which Serena explains that she hopes her classes will be able to provide the viewer with a better game on every front, from forehand to backhand to the mental side of the sport. It also outlines the general setup of the classes, with footage of Serena practicing mixed with official matches she played in the past.
Then the actual tennis lessons start, beginning with the fundamentals of groundstrokes, followed by mastering them. Serena thoroughly explains her methods and is aided by beautiful slowmotion shots of her practice session, which immediately translates her words to actions on the tennis court. Her main advice when it comes to hitting successful groundstrokes? Topspin, topspin and more topspin. She explains how even she, as a long-time professional, has still room for improvement in that department, needing to add more consistent topspin on her backhand side. The fundamentals are followed by some more advanced techniques, including footwork, returning and stances. The element of humor also comes in play in this section, with Serena laughing while she explains how you should hit to your female opponent’s backhand when she has large breasts, because it’s more difficult for them to properly get their arms in position.
Next up are sections about controlling the court, mental toughness, net play and training. Serena talks about turning defense into offense and putting away shots for an easy winner. The most important element there is anticipation, which she advices to train by doing sprint drills. An interesting thought she shares is that it’s seemingly the most logical choice to hit to the opponent’s weaker side, but that hitting to their strong side is recommended because they are not used to that and it throws them off. All as long as you don’t overdo it, keep them on their toes and guessing what you are going to do.
Serena calls tennis 70% mental. She explains how an important key to achieving mental toughness is by only thinking about one point at the time and not thinking about the score. Just the one point and have your complete focus on that. The section on net play is not that extensive, Serena is not known for her net rushes, but she does explain how going to the net can throw off your opponent and that the most important thing is to step into the volley and keeping your head down at the ball. The section about training starts off with Serena talking about she started out as a child, after which she explains that she doesn’t only put work in on the court with various drills, match situations and fitness excersises, but also mixes it up with dancing to keep herself in shape, because she finds it more enjoyable than running. She closes off with sharing her eating habits, which is also a very important part of staying in shape.
The final classes cover game day routines, goals and motivations and lastly the service, which is the most impressive factor of Serena’s game, being the greatest female server of all-time while only having 5’9” frame. Serena explains how she prepares for matches and what drives her to get out there time after time, enabling her to win all those Grand Slams. She explains how she thinks that the service is one of the hardest shots in tennis, because you can’t use your opponent’s pace, everything has to be generated by yourself. She extensively describes her service technique and her pointers are sure to improve your own serve as well, the advice is universal. All in all Serena’s MasterClass gives an insightful look in Serena’s mind and is sure to be helpful to not only beginning tennis players, but also everyone who is interested in learning about the mindset of a legendary athlete. You too can take this course with lifetime access by ordering it here