Sports & Gaming

Mental Toughness

Serena Williams

Lesson time 16:36 min

Serena Williams believes that tennis is 70% mental. Learn how to dig deep in tough situations from a player known for impossible comebacks.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Visualization • Coming Back • Pushing Through • Staying Focused • Solving the Problem • Role Models


Tennis is very physical, and it's a mental game as well. You have to be physically fit, but my dad always said tennis is 70% mental. And I really believe that, because I won most of my matches, probably all of my grand slams, because of upstairs, not anything else. It's how you play on a court, how you're able to take the crowd, how are you able to take your opponent, how are you able to handle different calls or different things. So it is a lot of things that go into tennis, but most of all, how are you able to game your opponent's head and make them think that they're not going to win today? [MUSIC PLAYING] I think my greatest strength as a tennis player is probably my mental game. Yes, I have a good serve. Yes I have speed, I have good backhand and forehand. But all that would be nothing if I wasn't ready, prepared mentally to play every game, every match. Once you are physically fit, then I think your mental game can be even better. I think that when you are not worried about getting tired or not worried about will I'll be able to last for the whole time, you can take your game to a whole new level with your mental game. I think one of my best mental performances, and there are a lot of them, but one that sticks out is Australian Open 2010. I was playing Justine Henin in the final, and I was injured. I didn't even know how injured I was. I had two bone bruises in both knees, I had a strain in my thigh, I was taped up from head to toe, and I had an injury on my calf. Oh, and I had my stomach taped. And I was dead. And I just was mentally fried, my body, I couldn't walk. And somehow I made it to the final. And I was in the third set this guy yells out-- Come on Justine! That was an interesting exchange, wasn't it? --you don't deserve to be number one, or something. And then I looked at that guy, and I said, thanks to you I'm going to win this match. And I think I won every game after that. So, he helped me. He mentally turned me on. So thank you, whoever that was. [MUSIC PLAYING] I think one way to develop mental toughness is to simply practice on it. There are some game scenarios that I do play. When I'm serving, in particular, I'm always like OK, I'm going to pretend like I'm down 15-30, second serve. And I do that in practice. So you can't double fault here. Because then if I double fault, then I'll be down double break point. So those are things I do in my mind, and I've always done that. When I was younger, I think my dad told me to do that. A good way to play hard against your friends, or your sister, or your brother, or someone that you really love and care about, is to just think about the future. That's what I did. I could never play against Venus when I was younger. It was always very difficult. And even today when they play against Venus, at times I do have a little fear, and I'm ...

About the Instructor

Serena Williams, the world's #1 ranked women's tennis player and winner of 23 Grand Slam singles titles, teaches you tennis and reveals the secrets of her game. This is as close as you can get to a private lesson with one of the world's greatest tennis players.

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Serena Williams

Step up your game with two hours of the techniques, drills, and mental skills that made Serena the best in the world.

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