Sports & Games

Perfect Your Tennis Forehand Technique With Tips From Serena Williams

Written by MasterClass

Nov 16, 2018 • 2 min read

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Serena Williams Teaches Tennis

The forehand is one of the most important tennis techniques. Here, Serena Williams explains how to hit a forehand: Turn back, reach head, and follow through.

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Who Is Serena Williams?

Serena Williams is a professional tennis player who has 21 Grand Slam Singles Titles, 13 Grand Slam Women’s Doubles Titles, and 4 Olympic Gold Medals. Serena has a max serve speed of 128.6 mph (3rd fastest recorded women’s serve.)

What Is a Forehand in Tennis?

The tennis forehand is a type of groundstroke where the racket’s swing path goes across the player’s body with an open palm. The dominant hand maintains the forehand grip.

  • For right-handed players, the racket’s swing path starts at the right side of the body, where the racket face makes a contact point with the ball. It goes across the torso and ends with a follow through over the left shoulder.
  • For a left-handed forehand, reverse the racket’s swing path to go from the left side to the right shoulder.

The Four Different Styles of Forehands

There are four main types of tennis forehands.

  1. Western
  2. Semi-Western
  3. Eastern
  4. Continental

The Western grip used to be popular in the early twentieth century, as did the Continental grip. The semi-Western is one of the more popular contemporary grips. Many tennis greats like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic prefer to hold the racket in the semi-Western way. The Eastern grip is the most modern tennis forehand grip. Professional players like Serena Williams and Roger Federer are known for the Eastern grip.

The Best Tennis Grip for Power and Control

Serena uses an Eastern forehand grip, rather than a Continental grip when she serves for power. This brings the strings into more direct, perpendicular contact with ball. The more your strings are smacking the ball directly–as opposed to brushing across the ball–the less spin and more power you’ll hit with.

How to Find the Eastern Grip

To achieve the Eastern forehand grip, follow these steps:

  1. Look down at your racquet from the bottom of the handle.
  2. There are 8 angles on the handle, and each is called a bevel.
  3. The blade of your racquet lines up with bevel #1 at the top.
  4. Now count to the right to find bevel #3 and place the base of your index finger knuckle there to find an Eastern forehand grip.

How to Practice Your Forehand

Once you have set up your tennis grip, follow Serena’s three-step method for executing a perfect forehand.

First, turn back: make sure your racket face is open and angled to hit the ball.

Next, reach head. This is the preparation for the contact point between racket and ball.

Finally, follow through. A strong follow through helps determine the strength of the stroke.

Practice both the grip and the motion of your forehand, both on and off the court. Once you are comfortable with the motion, experiment with opening or closing your racket face to change the angle of top spin on the ball. With enough practice, you’ll begin to master control over grip, spin, and your groundstrokes.

[Learn more about mastering groundstrokes in Serena's MasterClass.]

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