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View Full Version : Why Did Venus Change Her Backhand?


CJ07
May 22nd, 2006, 08:38 AM
I was just watching the 2001 US Open Final and was reminded of how good Venus's backhand was. Even in 2004 when she was at her trough, that show was still money.

But in 2005 she changed the technique, and I really don't see why? She kept the same shot for over a year after abdominal injury so I don't think that was it (even the serve in 2004 was the same as it was in 2003, but then that changed too) so what gave?

In 2005 she had a complete technique overhaul with a new serve, forehand, and backhand. The forehand change was welcome but unless theres something we don't know, I dont understand the other two changes :shrug:

Viktymise
May 22nd, 2006, 11:44 AM
Personally i think her serve is better than it was, its a bit more technically correct than the one she used b4 looks a bit less messy for some reason and her 2nd serve is better. Her backhand i think seems to have more moving parts, it used to be very simple, powerful and solid and when she is on its still great but when she isint its actually the shakier shot rather than the forehand these days, itwas the main reason why she lost to hingis, i think she spent alot of time trying to get her forehand together and she neglected the backhand which is why i think its a bit raged but i think she'll pull it back

K-Dog
May 22nd, 2006, 12:37 PM
Idk. If I was her, the only shot I would've changed was the forehand. i prefer this forehand actually than the one was she was winning a lot. the current backhand has little use of the legs, is completely open-stance, has little topspin, is jerky and not very fluid, and is too much just arm and wrist. The old backhand used more legs, was hit with more topsin, switched between open and closed stance depending on the shot, was fluid and more simple, and utilized her whole body unlike the one now-a-days.

on to the serve. I don't like this serve because it has even more moving parts than the previous serve. The ball toss is too inconsistent, the speed is down, the feet stay too parallel to the baseline, she doesn't end up in the court after the serve (her body momentum seems to stay where she made contact), the arm and legs are not in coordination, and the second serve is all arm now. There is little variety on the serve now and she can't hit the serve as accurately or as hard as once hit. Opponents can read her serve from the toss now and before they couldn't. Even when Venus hits good serves, the opponents already know where it is going based off the toss.

Not to mention, Venus seems to be pl;aying with even bigger racquets since 2004. Racquets like that allow players to be lazy and use less of their body to hit shots prorperly. Believe me, it happened to be. Venus needs to go back to something 100 sq inches to 105 square inches. Everything except the forehand needs to be like it was from 1999-2004. It is the only way Venus will ever regain her previous form from 2000-2003.

alfajeffster
May 22nd, 2006, 12:42 PM
I was just watching the 2001 US Open Final and was reminded of how good Venus's backhand was. Even in 2004 when she was at her trough, that show was still money.

But in 2005 she changed the technique, and I really don't see why? She kept the same shot for over a year after abdominal injury so I don't think that was it (even the serve in 2004 was the same as it was in 2003, but then that changed too) so what gave?

In 2005 she had a complete technique overhaul with a new serve, forehand, and backhand. The forehand change was welcome but unless theres something we don't know, I dont understand the other two changes :shrug:

Yes, her backhand was a weapon back then, but her forehand has always sucked, to be quite blunt. Many times when a player has a stronger side and the other side is a liability, in their efforts to improve and re-tool the weaker side, the strength is lost in the stronger. Tennis is like that, and it's rare when you see a player with equal ability on forehand and backhand. Striking a tennis ball is a matter of body balance, both physical and mental. Venus Williams, as fast and powerful as she is, has never been a very balanced tennis player- just a fast and powerful shotmaker. Re-tooling her forehand was a very dangerous thing to do for her style of play and stroke production.

tennisrox
May 22nd, 2006, 12:58 PM
Yes, her backhand was a weapon back then, but her forehand has always sucked, to be quite blunt. Many times when a player has a stronger side and the other side is a liability, in their efforts to improve and re-tool the weaker side, the strength is lost in the stronger. Tennis is like that, and it's rare when you see a player with equal ability on forehand and backhand. Striking a tennis ball is a matter of body balance, both physical and mental. Venus Williams, as fast and powerful as she is, has never been a very balanced tennis player- just a fast and powerful shotmaker. Re-tooling her forehand was a very dangerous thing to do for her style of play and stroke production.
Completely agree. I haven't seen too many players who are equally strong off both wings, even the most gifted. Every player starts out with a stronger wing, but some improve on a weaker shot to a great degree because of good balance, and hand-eye co-ordination. Venus is not well balanced on any of her shots, and its no surprise that she is so injury-prone. I don't understand why she completely overhauled her backhand though. It was always a better shot than her forehand.

vogus
May 22nd, 2006, 02:40 PM
the biggest single reason why she's not as good as in '00-'02, is that her backhand is not as good today as it was then. Back in the day, you took a risk every time you hit to that side because she could always hit a shot to break the rally open. Now you can get away with it a lot of the time.

slydevil6142
May 22nd, 2006, 02:41 PM
Maybe Im missing something ..... but Venus's backhand is EXACTLY the same its always been. She made a ton of errors on it against Hingis but that had less to do with her stroke production and more to do with not getting proper footing before hitting the shot. Venus tends to stand flat footed at times (as do I haha) when she has a relativly weak shot not moving her feet at all and hitting the ball either into the net or 10 feet out hense all those errors against Hingis.

I will agree .... she doesnt attack her backhand nearly as much as she use to and is willing to stay in backhand ralleys.

vogus
May 22nd, 2006, 02:43 PM
Completely agree. I haven't seen too many players who are equally strong off both wings, even the most gifted. Every player starts out with a stronger wing, but some improve on a weaker shot to a great degree because of good balance, and hand-eye co-ordination.


that's one of the things that made Agassi so great and so unique. Absolute balance of strength between his fh and bh. Both his groundstrokes were his strong side.

alfajeffster
May 22nd, 2006, 02:48 PM
that's one of the things that made Agassi so great and so unique. Absolute balance of strength between his fh and bh. Both his groundstrokes were his strong side.

That's what's so interesting- he did and does have virtually no weaknesses in the groundstroke department on either wing, but he's definitely not a good volleyer by any stretch. His game hasn't changed at all since 1988, just his fitness and dedication. Juxtapose this against Graf's game. Looking at Steffi's forehand from 1987 and then in 1999, it's clear that it changed quite a bit. The direction didn't change that much, but the actual stroke did. The key here is that it didn't change overnight- it took years and lots of dedication and practice, and small steps. Venus has made some drastic changes in her stroke production in a few short years.

vogus
May 22nd, 2006, 02:52 PM
That's what's so interesting- he did and does have virtually no weaknesses in the groundstroke department on either wing, but he's definitely not a good volleyer by any stretch.


remember that awful-looking wild forehand volley that probably cost him the '95 USO title against Sampras? He practically hit it off the back fence.

alfonsojose
May 22nd, 2006, 02:55 PM
That's what's so interesting- he did and does have virtually no weaknesses in the groundstroke department on either wing, but he's definitely not a good volleyer by any stretch. His game hasn't changed at all since 1988, just his fitness and dedication. Juxtapose this against Graf's game. Looking at Steffi's forehand from 1987 and then in 1999, it's clear that it changed quite a bit. The direction didn't change that much, but the actual stroke did. The key here is that it didn't change overnight- it took years and lots of dedication and practice, and small steps. Venus has made some drastic changes in her stroke production in a few short years.
:yeah: Not only bad volleys, but an awful transition game. There are players that have good vollyes, but how u reach the net is another story.

Geisha
May 22nd, 2006, 04:07 PM
Personally i think her serve is better than it was, its a bit more technically correct than the one she used b4 looks a bit less messy for some reason and her 2nd serve is better. Her backhand i think seems to have more moving parts, it used to be very simple, powerful and solid and when she is on its still great but when she isint its actually the shakier shot rather than the forehand these days, itwas the main reason why she lost to hingis, i think she spent alot of time trying to get her forehand together and she neglected the backhand which is why i think its a bit raged but i think she'll pull it back

If you look at the match against Pironkova, her backhand didn't neglect her as much as her forehand did. If she has a shaky forehand, there must be so much pressure on her backhand to come up with a great shot - that is probably another reason why she lost to Hingis.

Geisha
May 22nd, 2006, 04:09 PM
the biggest single reason why she's not as good as in '00-'02, is that her backhand is not as good today as it was then. Back in the day, you took a risk every time you hit to that side because she could always hit a shot to break the rally open. Now you can get away with it a lot of the time.

You can say that with everybody. It is because the game has changed. Trust me, Hingis was hitting more winning off the backhand in 1997/98 than she is now. It isn't because her backhand has become worse, it is just because the game has changed.

Geisha
May 22nd, 2006, 04:12 PM
Maybe Im missing something ..... but Venus's backhand is EXACTLY the same its always been. She made a ton of errors on it against Hingis but that had less to do with her stroke production and more to do with not getting proper footing before hitting the shot. Venus tends to stand flat footed at times (as do I haha) when she has a relativly weak shot not moving her feet at all and hitting the ball either into the net or 10 feet out hense all those errors against Hingis.

I will agree .... she doesnt attack her backhand nearly as much as she use to and is willing to stay in backhand ralleys.

That's what I'm saying. I don't see many technical changes. I think the reason she hits more open stanced is because the game has changed and player are hitting deeper, robbing her of time to close her legs.

CJ07
May 22nd, 2006, 04:16 PM
Maybe Im missing something ..... but Venus's backhand is EXACTLY the same its always been. She made a ton of errors on it against Hingis but that had less to do with her stroke production and more to do with not getting proper footing before hitting the shot. Venus tends to stand flat footed at times (as do I haha) when she has a relativly weak shot not moving her feet at all and hitting the ball either into the net or 10 feet out hense all those errors against Hingis.

I will agree .... she doesnt attack her backhand nearly as much as she use to and is willing to stay in backhand ralleys.
it definitely isn't, if you pay close attention, its very much different.

skanky~skanketta
May 22nd, 2006, 04:36 PM
at least she's working on it!
i remember when justine could only hit that crosscourt topspin forehand. she reworked that and it's an even more formidable than her backhand. she also reworked her serve a few times if i'm not mistaken.

it'll take time. look at mauresmo, to prevent injuries, she too changed almost all her strokes and she's #1 now and definitely not getting injured as much as before.

Venus is taking a step in the right direction. i think it'll take a bit of time before it all falls into place.

volta
May 22nd, 2006, 04:49 PM
i just think she just needs more play thast all lets just wait and see she is working in her game now and she is playing good tennis so far. just a bit rusty here and there but it will all be good as soon as she gets more matches under her belt

vogus
May 22nd, 2006, 04:55 PM
You can say that with everybody. It is because the game has changed. Trust me, Hingis was hitting more winning off the backhand in 1997/98 than she is now. It isn't because her backhand has become worse, it is just because the game has changed.


i think you are right actually, because it does seem like players have learned how to defend better against the big 2-handed backhand in the last few years, maybe they're keeping the ball deeper or anticipating better.

VeeReeDavJCap81
May 22nd, 2006, 05:03 PM
Honestly, when I was watching the match...I kept thinking about gripping issues. She'd hit a perfect forehand, only to shank a backhand on her next shot. Maybe she's changed her grip on the forehand so she's not yet used to switching back to her back hand grip after hitting a forehand.

Kenny
May 22nd, 2006, 05:06 PM
I agree with VeeReeDavJcap on that..

SelesFan70
May 22nd, 2006, 05:30 PM
I was watching the 1999 Wimbledon quarterfinal she play against Steffi, and Steffi was DEFINITELY playing her forehand.

I think her serve stance has changed as well...it looked different to me in Rome. :confused:

alfajeffster
May 22nd, 2006, 05:39 PM
Another thing to consider is back when she was hitting great backhands with that open stance of hers, many of them going down the line for winners when her opponents least expected it, most of her opponents weren't capable of keeping up with the power, and both Venus and Serena used to muscle the shot because they had something to work with. Now there are so many players with as good if not better backhand technique, but more importantly, can match Venus power, so she's scrambling and many times out of position to hit it as offensively as she used to. Venus in particular has always had a truckload of hitches in her stroke production. Steffi Graf actually played percentage tennis compared to the unforced errors off the Williams racquet. On clay, percentage tennis is even more important.

santhuruu
May 22nd, 2006, 06:10 PM
You know this discussion had also been the same like last year after Venus lost in the third round against Karatancheva, all the non-williams fans especially said that the technique was not in order at all, but look at Wimbledon what happened. I think it's just the bounce of the balls on gravel. YOu'll see that at Wimbledon everything will be fine for sure!

BigBabeTENNIS
May 22nd, 2006, 06:22 PM
venus game has not chaged still the same just cut the eroos out venus good luck at the french

pcrtennis
May 22nd, 2006, 08:53 PM
It really doesn't look different to me...every player looks a little different over the years...but nothing realy big has changed. Much ado about nothing.

!<blocparty>!
May 22nd, 2006, 09:44 PM
I haven't heard anyone talk about the alterations. :confused: Anyway, in my download of the Wimby quarter last year they show two clips of Venus playing a backhand... one when she was about 12 and the other during the Pierce match... it seemed pretty much exactly the same, no commentators have mentioned anything about technique changes.

Paialii
May 22nd, 2006, 09:49 PM
Her technique alterations are pretty minimal, and I haven't seen any reason to believe that it's a negative alternation. She's always wristed/armed her backhand a lot, it's just how she plays. That's not a change. The only thing right now that is different is confidence. When you have more confidence, you swing out more, thus making your shots seem better (not only seem, but they'll be more solid). She's still working to gain that confidence back.

She still has the best backhand-down-the-line in the game.

Serena's technique has changed more than Venus', come to think of it. I think hers is just due to little practice, but in 2005 her groundstrokes (particularly her forehand) were completely off technique-wise. She hardly ever followed through, or split-step and set up for her shots. I'm hoping when she comes back (with a "big bang" as she put it ;)) that we see more solid technique.

junlee_vee
May 22nd, 2006, 09:52 PM
I haven't noticed any differences :scratch:

CJ07
May 22nd, 2006, 09:53 PM
As K-Dog mentioned, Venus has changed her stance in her backhand, and doesn't rotate the way she used to. Also her take back is different and generally more jerky.

On her serve she changed her stance, and while its more fluid than the old one, its mostly a slice serve now. Hence the higher percentage but lower MPH and placement.

VeeReeDavJCap81
May 22nd, 2006, 09:58 PM
Her strokes were the best pre-2000 before the wrist injury. She had more top spin on her shots, and they were more consistent. I was watching the 1999 Wimbledon QF the other day, and Venus really had a lot of spin on her shots.

CJ07
May 22nd, 2006, 10:11 PM
Venus did use to have very heavy topspin.

In all honesty I can't think of a player who has experimented more with her technique than Venus Williams. But I always wondered, why didn't Richard just teach her the same technique as Serena :shrug:

vesanto
May 22nd, 2006, 10:29 PM
To me the difference between this Venus and the Venus from some years ago is basically her service, that now is much slower and less effective and her fitness, that due to lack of exercise during her layoff time, is really putting her down in some matches...her last game in Rome for example, she barely run to Hingis balls, she was clearly exhausted by all the week she had...and she almost always arrived late to tha balls, she tried to make winners everywhere but as she was so unbalanced she couldnīt make them...I think I never saw her so tired...she really had a hard week but if she was in good form she would have never lost to Hingis.
Another example is the quarter final match against Kim in USA Open 2005...she clearly lost the 3rd set because she was exhausted...otherwise I believe she could have won...I really believe itīs a question of fitness and if she trains regularly, she will win these big tournaments again...But overall, I donīt see many changes on her game.