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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 27th, 2010, 02:58 AM Thread Starter
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Venus' First Serve

Not a Miami thread

The 2003 Aus Open final is on ESPN Classic right now. I was watching Venus serve, and something suddenly struck me.

Venus' first serve is a thunderbolt. When it goes in. She has always lacked a 90% solution. Watching that match, I realized why. Who has she played more matches against than anyone in her entire life? What one woman is her model for what a service return can do? Who's service return, who;s mentality on service return trained her tennis "instincts'?

What's the lesson?

You're going to lose most points with a weak first serve.
You're going to lose most points with a second serve period.

So hit the living shit out of your first serve.

Her game has acquired felicitous nuance since then, but the basics are what they are. Venus starts playing every opponent like she's facing Serena. Not strategically, but psychologically. Kinda. That's at least mildly at odds with reality.



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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 27th, 2010, 03:06 AM
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Re: Venus' First Serve

I think it's more of a pride thing. She's far too stubborn to have her first serve attacked by anyone and has fallen into the habit of hitting it as hard as possible.

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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 27th, 2010, 03:16 AM
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Re: Venus' First Serve

ummm....i guess ya'll havent watched her lately... Venus goes to the slice more and more...she rarely kicks up the speed to the levels she use to do routinely. Shes more about placement these days. The only time i even see her go for that body serve in at Wimbledon....

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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 27th, 2010, 03:18 AM
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Re: Venus' First Serve

I think it cuts both ways. Have you ever seen Serena step in and crush a return off of a big 1st serve? I have: against Sharapova, Davenport, Kuznetsova, Petrova, Stosur... she knows she has to sometimes turn it up a notch to keep from letting an opponent build up momentum. Why? Because Venus can build up momentum from a smattering of excellent 1st serves.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 27th, 2010, 04:09 AM
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Re: Venus' First Serve

I have often thought it is the reason they both have such great first serves and returns, they train against each other. Anyone who practises returning the other's first serve is bound to get a might good return game. It may also be the reason Venus frets whe she has to hit a second serve- serena has never let her develop confidence in it. I guess it depends on how you look at it.

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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 27th, 2010, 05:07 AM
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Re: Venus' First Serve

It seems to me more of a mindset issue. After all, Serena trained with Venus as well (who wasn't a slouch at returning serves either) and she has a better first and second serve.

Venus has a more aggressive mindset. That's her tennis temperament. Her natural instinct is to hit it as hard and flat sa she can. She even mentioned in a video about serving (I can't remember where I saw it but I'm sure it's on youtube) that she takes a more aggressive stance on the 2nd serve than her sister. I guess someone forgot to tell her that a kick serve can be aggressive.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 27th, 2010, 05:24 AM
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Re: Venus' First Serve

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Originally Posted by Dunlop1 View Post
It seems to me more of a mindset issue. After all, Serena trained with Venus as well (who wasn't a slouch at returning serves either) and she has a better first and second serve.

Venus has a more aggressive mindset. That's her tennis temperament. Her natural instinct is to hit it as hard and flat sa she can. She even mentioned in a video about serving (I can't remember where I saw it but I'm sure it's on youtube) that she takes a more aggressive stance on the 2nd serve than her sister. I guess someone forgot to tell her that a kick serve can be aggressive.
I think it's just as much a technical issue as it is a mental issue. Pete Sampras once said that Venus has no idea where the ball is going when she serves, and when you watch her serve, you understand why he said it; the left side of Venus' body collapses like a house of cards before she makes contact with the ball. I'm honestly surprised I haven't seen her flat-out whiff one yet.

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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 27th, 2010, 06:01 AM
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Re: Venus' First Serve

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I think it's just as much a technical issue as it is a mental issue. Pete Sampras once said that Venus has no idea where the ball is going when she serves, and when you watch her serve, you understand why he said it; the left side of Venus' body collapses like a house of cards before she makes contact with the ball. I'm honestly surprised I haven't seen her flat-out whiff one yet.
I remember when he made that comment and I felt that comment was very and disrespectful of him. Almost all high level juniors can place their serve. To state that about a professional player, esp of Venus, is ridiculous.

Her body collapsing is a result of her trying to do the right thing but with less than optimal body positioning.
She is correctly performing the 'shoulder-over-shoulder' motion, but she is too frontal on the serve (caused brings her back foot up too much such that it is parallel to her front foot).
Because she is too frontal and she isn't aligned properly, she can't properly achieve the shoulder over shoulder rotation. The result is her right shoulder moving up and forward which causes the left shoulder to collapse to the side. This then makes it easier to drop your head. All this gives the Venus Williams serve.

To be fair she has made corrections on her serve and while I still see her do the above, it is much less than it used to be.
Interestingly enough, the frontal position really accentuates her slice. Because sheis frontal, the serve direction will naturally flow out wide on the duece court. Add some slice and you have a wicked slice serve.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 27th, 2010, 06:04 AM
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Re: Venus' First Serve

Yea... those comments by Pete were pretty surprising and out of line IMHO.

However, the Venus serve is full of technical issues. i'm no expert, but with her problems with balltoss and the complete lack of fluidity in her motion, it seems like it would be asking a lot of her to throw in effective kick serves

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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 27th, 2010, 06:32 AM
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Re: Venus' First Serve

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ummm....i guess ya'll havent watched her lately... Venus goes to the slice more and more...she rarely kicks up the speed to the levels she use to do routinely. Shes more about placement these days. The only time i even see her go for that body serve in at Wimbledon....
I too have noticed that the slice 1st serve has been much more in evidence lately. Vee doesn't change her game much over the years so ya gotta watch closely.
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 27th, 2010, 06:41 AM
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Re: Venus' First Serve

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I remember when he made that comment and I felt that comment was very and disrespectful of him. Almost all high level juniors can place their serve. To state that about a professional player, esp of Venus, is ridiculous.
First of all, it seems to me that you just don't like Pete Sampras for whatever reason. Secondly, he didn't say Venus' serve was bad; he just said she doesn't know where it's going. To me, she approaches her first serve like John Daly approaches his tee shot: grip it and rip it.
Quote:
Her body collapsing is a result of her trying to do the right thing but with less than optimal body positioning.
She is correctly performing the 'shoulder-over-shoulder' motion, but she is too frontal on the serve (caused brings her back foot up too much such that it is parallel to her front foot).
Because she is too frontal and she isn't aligned properly, she can't properly achieve the shoulder over shoulder rotation. The result is her right shoulder moving up and forward which causes the left shoulder to collapse to the side. This then makes it easier to drop your head. All this gives the Venus Williams serve.

To be fair she has made corrections on her serve and while I still see her do the above, it is much less than it used to be.
Interestingly enough, the frontal position really accentuates her slice. Because sheis frontal, the serve direction will naturally flow out wide on the duece court. Add some slice and you have a wicked slice serve.
I agree with you 100 percent, but it still drives me nuts when I see Venus' head fly out in front before she hits the ball. After almost 16 full years on tour, you would think she would've looked at herself on tape or DVD and said, "That's not right. I should probably change that." Then again, no self-respecting coach would ever teach Stefanie Graf's forehand technique to his or her students, but none of Stefanie's coaches ever tried to correct her. Whatever works for you, I suppose.

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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 27th, 2010, 07:26 AM
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Re: Venus' First Serve

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Originally Posted by Volcana View Post
Not a Miami thread

The 2003 Aus Open final is on ESPN Classic right now. I was watching Venus serve, and something suddenly struck me.

Venus' first serve is a thunderbolt. When it goes in. She has always lacked a 90% solution. Watching that match, I realized why. Who has she played more matches against than anyone in her entire life? What one woman is her model for what a service return can do? Who's service return, who;s mentality on service return trained her tennis "instincts'?

What's the lesson?

You're going to lose most points with a weak first serve.
You're going to lose most points with a second serve period.

So hit the living shit out of your first serve.

Her game has acquired felicitous nuance since then, but the basics are what they are. Venus starts playing every opponent like she's facing Serena. Not strategically, but psychologically. Kinda. That's at least mildly at odds with reality.



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Well first off, in regards to Pete Sampras, I don't know how much critical analysis went into his claim. I always got the impression that it was a fit of peevishness and a fleeting, off-the-cuff statement because winning was no longer as easy for him as it used to be, while Venus (at that time) was on the rise. I know that Venus was really taken aback and hurt by it, while he in turn was always embarrassed ever after, when people tried to bring it up. Think about when Federer lashed out at Lady Jaja, taking shots at her number 1 status (while he'd just lost his number status). It's par for the course with men's tennis to have a certain degree of disdain/contempt for the women.

However, I think Volcana that you've got it the wrong way around regarding Vee's serve being shaped by Serena's return.

Seeing that Venus erupted on to the scene and was hitting into the 120s before Serena arrived and has always had a high-risk go-for-broke style of play on both her serve AND her groundstrokes, I think that it's actually Serena's return game (which Serena correctly asserted as the best in the women's game in '02) that is both influenced by and has benefited from training with Venus in addition to Serena having to go directly through Venus in order to become the best player of her generation.

And while Serena was always a good, consistent, dangerous returner during the nineties, once she started beating Venus regularly she evolved into a truly great, fear-inducing returner - there was a visible leap in her ability to return. Whereas as with Venus, even as a teen player she was *always* able to hit in the 120s mph serve against all her opponents before there *was* a Serena. She's added a few mph on to that, but one of the things that her detractors and fans alike marvel/despair at is that in many respects her serve hasn't changed that much.

Why Venus serves the way that she does - benefits and flaws - is something that not even she can explain.
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 27th, 2010, 07:29 AM
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Re: Venus' First Serve

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Originally Posted by darrinbaker00 View Post
I think it's just as much a technical issue as it is a mental issue. Pete Sampras once said that Venus has no idea where the ball is going when she serves, and when you watch her serve, you understand why he said it; the left side of Venus' body collapses like a house of cards before she makes contact with the ball. I'm honestly surprised I haven't seen her flat-out whiff one yet.
Didn't sampras make that comment when Venus debuted in 1997, that girl is a very different form the venus of '10. You could say the same of most players once they have been playing for ten or so years. It is ridiclous to even think Venus' does not know where her serve is go to. How than cn you ocount on her to go wide in pressure points.
and that sampras was a sour puss!

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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 27th, 2010, 12:50 PM
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Re: Venus' First Serve

I think that Serena is the player she is because of Venus Williams:

1) She is a phenomenal shotmaker, because she had to practice getting the balls out of the reach of Venus;
2) She is an aggressive returner having to face down the biggest serve in women's tennis on a regular basis;
3) She HAD to become mentally tough, because that was the only way she was going to beat her big sister and role model.

In contrast, Venus has benefited less from practicing with Serena: either out of stubborness (likely) or pride. Sure she pays lip service to the "I want to be like Serena," but honestly, I don't see much influence of Serena on her game or her mental approach to the game. If she did, she wouldn't go away in the second set like she has been doing of late.

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Last edited by vwfan; Mar 27th, 2010 at 12:55 PM.
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 27th, 2010, 12:52 PM
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Re: Venus' First Serve

Oh, and the Sampras comment.

He was just being pissy, because one of the commentators had made the comment about whether he'd be able to pass a 127 mph serve Venus had just hit. Men disparaging women's tennis is really annoying. Loss respect for him a bit after that. He was a legend and Venus was an up and comer--no need to say that.

That said, I do think that she mostly just goes for it, but to say that she doesn't think about where she wants her serve to go is just

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Last edited by vwfan; Mar 27th, 2010 at 02:55 PM.
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