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For your New Year’s goal, how would you like to grow your game… with one of greatest tennis players of all-time as your personal coach, like, say… Serena Williams? I did, and even though I’m a more advanced rec player (4.5), she gave me lots of great tips that I know will take my game to the next level!
Okay… so Serena didn’t fly in to Houston to give me private lessons, but I did take her UH-MAY-ZING course online through MasterClass. Not only that, but I can retake the entire course as many times as I want at no additional charge — for the rest of my life! If you’ve never heard of MasterClass, it’s an online educational website, where the best of the best from all sorts of disciplines are invited to share some of their secrets to us mere mortals.
Serena’s MasterClass serves up tennis insights in ten classes, providing close to three hours of verbal instruction as well as video examples (the videos included here are just a mini sample.) And don’t think for one minute that it will be boring or theoretical. On the contrary, Serena is extremely personable and her lessons were very light-hearted and occasionally humorous. She even gave little tidbits on her life in general.
Before the first class begins, there is 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 which includes footage of Serena practicing and demonstrating, mixed with some of her playing in past matches:
- Introduction – Focus and Desire: Whether you’re a beginner or a budding champion, Serena Williams can teach you how to improve your game on and off the court.
- Groundstrokes I: Consistency is key in tennis. Experience the drills Serena’s father ran for her as a kid—drills she still runs every day as a pro.
- Mastering Groundstrokes: Master baseline play with advanced footwork, backhand and troubleshooting techniques that Serena uses to challenge any opponent.
- Controlling The Court: Serena teaches you how to turn defense into offense, when to anticipate and react, and how to open up the court for easy winners.
- Mental Toughness: Serena Williams believes that tennis is 70% mental. Learn how to dig deep in tough situations from a player known for impossible comebacks.
- Advanced Net Play: Serena rarely comes to the net, but when she does, she makes it count. Learn proper approach, volley, and smash techniques.
- Training Like a Pro: The average women’s professional tennis match lasts two hours, but Serena trains to play all-out for four. Here she reveals her tips for staying in top shape, her pro drills, and how to keep it fun while putting in the hard work.
- Preparing for Game Day: Serena starts a big match before she even steps out onto the court. Learn the physical and mental routines that take Serena to the Grand Slams over and over again.
- Making Of A Winner: Serena’s run of titles is otherworldly, but it all started with goals, heroes, and a lot of practice.
- Mastering The Serve: Serena’s serve is legendary. Weaponize your serve as Serena teaches you the mechanics that power 128mph of pure genius.
Then the actual tennis lessons begin, first with the fundamentals of groundstrokes, followed by how to master them. Serena thoroughly explains her methods and is aided by beautiful slow motion shots of her practice sessions, 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, a long-time professional, could still benefit by adding more consistent topspin on her backhand side. The fundamentals are followed by more advanced techniques, including those for footwork, returns and stances. The element of humor also comes in play in this section, with Serena laughing while explaining how you should hit to your “busty” female opponents’ two-handed backhand because it’s more difficult for them to bring their dominant arm across their chest for an optimal return. (Oh yeah… she went there, lol!)
Next up are sections about court control, mental toughness, net play and training. Serena explains how to go from defensive to offensive play, and how to put away shots for easy winners. The most important element there is anticipation, which she advises training for by doing sprint drills. One interesting thought she shares is that while the more logical choice is to hit to the opponent’s weaker side, occasionally hitting to their strong side is also recommended because they won’t be expecting it and might throw them off. As long as you don’t overdo it, it will keep them on their toes trying to guess what you’ll do next.
Serena calls tennis 70% mental. She explains that an important key to achieving mental toughness is to only think about one point at the time and not to think about the score. Just the one point and have your complete focus on that.
(Sorry about the quality, but it’s the only video of this I could find.)
The section on net play is not that extensive as Serena is not really known for rushing the net. But the fact that she usually wins the point when she does makes her advice in the matter key. The section about training begins with Serena talking about how she started when she was a child, with drills, match situations and a fitness routine. Today, she still does all of the aforementioned training, only she mixes it it up with dancing to keep herself in shape because she finds it more enjoyable than running (me too!) She ends the lesson by sharing her eating habits, which she stresses is crucial for optimal health and court performance.
The final classes cover game day routines, goals and motivation, and lastly, the service, which is the most impressive factor of Serena’s game. As the greatest female server of all-time, 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 self-generated. She extensively describes and demonstrates her service technique and her pointers are sure to improve your own serve as well, since the advice is universal.
Overall, Serena’s MasterClass is a clear winner! It gives an insightful look into Serena’s tennis mind and shows us exactly what it takes to be a champion. It’s a great tactical tool not only for newbie tennis players, but for everyone who wants to grow their game and develop/strengthen their mental game.
You can take this course which has lifetime access by ordering it HERE.
Gordon Ramsay teaches cooking. Aaron Sorkin teaches screenwriting. Helen Mirren teaches acting. Penn & Teller teach magic. Steve Martin teaches comedy. Christina Aguilera teaches singing. Shonda Rhimes teaches writing for television. Martin Scorsese teaches filmmaking. Stephen Curry teaches basketballing. And there is SO much more!!!! Seriously… how badass is that?!
If you have any questions, or if you’ve already taken Serena’s course, we would love to hear from you! Please tell us in the comments below :-)