From Serena Williams's MasterClass

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.

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

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

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

Serena Williams

Teaches Tennis

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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! [INAUDIBLE] 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 ...

Learn Serena's Technique

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.

Reviews

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

I love tennis and Serena's insights improved my game :)

luv it (this is a test from a MasterClass employee)

Each segment provided me with valuable information that I surely won't forget. Thank you so much for creating this masterclass Serena!

Thank you, Serena! I'm inspired to take my game to the next level.

Comments

David B.

What a player, what a woman. I have so loved watching Serena and Venus all these years, they have always been an inspiration in strength of character and grace. I've coached high school tennis for years and I always tell my students that if the get angry at a point, they aren't paying attention to what the point is telling them. It should never be anything to get angry about but instead should be information. It is not information unless you are open to listening to it.

Miriam C.

I don't even play tennis, lol! but I am taking this lesson to learn about Serena's mindset. Serena inspires me and motivates me to be the best version of myself. I had the same surgery as her on her toe, and the story of her recovery and subsequent victories after that surgery got me on my feet faster. I just didn't realize how many other surgeries she's had too-it is amazing. What I find interesting on this lesson is that she can turn her worst critic into her greatest support, what an amazing idea. Seeing it as a challenge to prove them wrong. She also talks about winning one point at a time, which goes with the same idea in psychology of "small wins." I am applying this concept to my writing - to write just one chapter at a time, and not focus on the entire process if it is too overwhelming. I love it when she says, that is about "how you recover when you are down." This lesson is great at teaching focus and getting through the obstacles-tennis or not :)

Janet L.

I was very interested in Serena's advice on controlling your thoughts and feelings on the court. I find it hard to play against someone close to me. I don't want to lose, but at the same time I empathize with them when they're upset, losing or frustrated. I always wondered how Serena and Venus could be so competitive against each other on the world stage and yet remain respectful during battle. Imaging how the outcome will be in 10 years is a great tip and not taking everything so personal. It's a game.

A fellow student

So I'm a 4.0. Have only played for 10yrs. Have worked so hard to get to this level. I play everyday practicing. I haven't won a match in a year. Usually loose in a 3rd set but it's still a loss and it has taken its toll on me mentally. I have a match tonight and I've told myself I'm taking a break. I'm just depressed over this whole thing. Any words of wisdom?

Michael F.

Roger and Rafa are amazing ambassadors for sport. But the world needs Serena for so many other things beyond just sport. Cool chick.

Murl M.

Her champion mindset was a great gift to share. No mention of Federer was unique. Nice to know her father's teachings are still guideposts for her game.

Joe M.

There's no question that Serena is one of the most physically capable and talented of all tennis players; however, when it comes to mental toughness, she has proven to be the ultimate example -- any athlete, any sport, hands down. No matter what the score is, never count her out. Her insight on mental toughness that she provided in this session is priceless.

Maria C.

Amazing insights and examples on how she is a normal person with ups and downs and how she is so conscious about her game.

Caterina P.

that's a lesson of tennis but mostly it's a lesson of life!!! that's great .Sometimes happen to me to think during the match at personal problems that come to my mind without any control and I try to think only at the ball but it though...does anyone have this problem?

Lisa M.

When I focus on each point, I have made amazing comebacks. They key is slow down, breathe and take one point at a time. I like the visualization idea- thanks Serena! Next time I play I'll pause and re-evaluate how to do better... and to not write myself off as a looser!