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In tennis, one of the weapons in a player’s arsenal is their serve. When you have a blazing fast serve, you can put the game in your back pocket right away. It’s obvious that having a serve that is faster and stronger than your opponent is going to help you win the match. With that being said, what is the average serve speed in tennis? How do you increase your average serve speed?
You might want to get out some note paper, because this guide is filled with all kinds of useful information on the average serve speed in tennis and more.
What is the Fastest Serve Ever?
For context, let’s briefly touch on the fastest serves of all time for both male and female players. This is useful information to have when you are trying to gauge your level beside a professional’s.
The world’s fastest tennis serve happened on May 9, 2022 when Sam Groth, an Australian player, was playing against Uladzimir Ignatik of Belarus in Busan, South Korea. Groth hit the ball and set it flying at a speed of 163.7 mph (263.4 km/h). Unfortunately, Groth lost that match 4-6, 3-6. Still, his feat has made him rather famous.
Oddly, because this record was broken during an ITF Challenger event, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) does not recognize it as the fastest. This is due to the lack of uniformity between the speed tracking devices throughout tennis tournaments. Because of this discrepancy, the ATP fastest tennis serve belongs to John Isner, who hit a 157.2 mph (253 km/h) during a match at the 2016 Davis Cup.
What is the Average Tennis Serve Speed in Tennis?
Now that you know what is considered fast, what about the median? Generally, the first average serve speed is around 120 mph (190-200 km/h) for men and 105 mph (170-180 km/h) for women in professional tennis. Second average serve speed is around 96 mph (154 km/h) for the top men’s tennis players. Meanwhile, the second serve for top women’s players is 84 mph (136 km/h).
Interestingly, throughout the years, the average tennis serve speed has increased. One can attribute this to better training programs, as well as technology. Racket design has also changed, allowing for the ball to be struck with more force generated from the swing.
For those who play at the recreational level, your serve speed may be slower. This is perfectly normal. With time and experience, your technique will improve. Better technique leads to cleaner and quicker shots.
Average Serve Speeds in Men’s Tennis
Wondering how fast your favorite male players serve? Check out this nifty chart:
|Player Name||1st Serve Average Speed||2nd Serve Average Speed|
|Stefanos Tsitsipas||122 mph (196 km/h)||96 mph (155km/h)|
|Daniil Medvedev||121 mph (195 km/h)||95 mph (153 km/h)|
|Matteo Berrettini||121 mph (195 km/h)||100 mph (161 km/h)|
|Alexander Zverev||115 mph (186 km/h)||88 mph (142 km/h)|
|Novak Djokovic||115 mph (186 km/h)||92 mph (148 km/h)|
|Rafael Nadal||116 mph (187 km/h)||101 mph (162 km/h)|
|Felix Auger-Aliassime||123 mph (198 km/h)||103 mph (166 km/h)|
|Andrey Rublev||118 mph (191km/h)||89 mph (144km/h)|
|Casper Ruud||113 mph (182 km/h)||93 mph (150 km/h)|
|Hubert Hurkacz||117mph (189 km/h)||93mph (150 km/h)|
|Jannik Sinner||116 mph (187 km/h)||94 mph (151 km/h)|
|Denis Shapovalov||121 mph (195 km/h)||100 mph (161 km/h)|
|Diego Schwartzman||104 mph (167 km/h)||86 mph (138 km/h)|
|Cameron Norrie||113 mph (182 km/h)||87 mph (141 km/h)|
|Reilly Opelka||126 mph (203 km/h)||103 mph (165 km/h)|
|Aslan Karastev||116 mph (187 km/h)||100 mph (161 km/h)|
|Roberto Bautista Agut||109 mph (175 km/h)||92 mph (149 km/h)|
|Pablo Carreno Busta||110 mph (177 km/h)||89 mph (143 km/h)|
|Taylor Fritz||120 mph (193 km/h)||98 mph (157 km/h)|
|John Isner||123 mph (198 km/h)||113 mph (182 km/h)|
|Cristian Garin||116 mph (187 km/h)||96 mph (155 km/h)|
|Andy Murray||115 mph (186 km/h)||90 mph (145 km/h)|
|Roger Federer||113 mph (182 km/h)||96 mph (154 km/h)|
Some players here, such as Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Casper Ruud, have had their averages calculated using speed readings from recent official matches. For example, Djokovic’s average was taken from data gathered during the 2021 US Open.
Average Serve Speeds in Women’s Tennis
How do the professional women’s tennis players compare to the men’s average serve speeds? Let’s find out:
|Player Name||1st Average Serve Speed||2nd Average Serve Speed|
|Serena Williams||101 mph (162 km/h)||90 mph (145 km/h)|
|Elina Svitolina||97 mph (156 km/h)||77 mph (124 km/h)|
|Cori Gauff||102 mph (164 km/h)||90 mph (145 km/h)|
|Victoria Azarenka||99 mph (160 km/h)||80 mph (129 km/h)|
|Ashleigh Barty||106 mph (171 km/h)||88 mph (142 km/h)|
|Aryna Sabalenka||105 mph (170 km/h)||94 mph (151 km/h)|
|Elena Rybakina||106 mph (171 km/h)||82 mph (133 km/h)|
|Karolina Pliskova||104 mph (167 km/h)||85 mph (137 km/h)|
|Anett Kontaveit||99 mph (160 km/h)||85 mph (138 km/h)|
|Maria Sakkari||105 mph (168 km/h)||84 mph (136 km/h)|
|Danielle Collins||101 mph (162 km/h)||81 mph (131 km/h)|
|Emma Raducanu||93 mph (150 km/h)||84 mph (136 km/h)|
|Barbora Krejcikova||99 mph (159 km/h)||89 mph (144 km/h)|
|Paula Badosa||101 mph (162 km/h)||86 mph (139 km/h)|
|Garbine Muguruza||99 mph (160 km/h)||82 mph (133 km/h)|
|Iga Swiatek||101 mph (162 km/h)||80 mph (129 km/h)|
|Ons Jabeur||96 mph (155 km/h)||79 mph (127 km/h)|
|Anatasia Pavlyuchenkova||94 mph (151 km/h)||81 mph (131 km/h)|
|Jessica Pegula||99 mph (160 km/h)||81 mph (131 km/h)|
|Angeline Kerber||89 mph (144 km/h)||76 mph (123 km/h)|
|Leylah Fernandez||97 mph (156 km/h)||91 mph (146 km/h)|
|Naomi Osaka||108 mph (174 km/h)||83 mph (133 km/h)|
What is a Good Average Serve Speed for a Recreational Player?
You may not fancy yourself the next Roger Federer or Serena Williams, and that is perfectly fine. For most recreational players of both sexes, the first serve speed is around 70-90 mph (112-144 km/h). This will also depend on your level of skill.
On average, a 3.5 player will serve at around 55 mph (89 km/h), due to their lack of experience and control of the ball. Meanwhile, a 4.0 player can serve a ball much faster—around 70 mph (112 km/h). At 4.5 and up, players may consistently serve a ball at around 80-100 mph (144-160 km/h), depending on their height, experience, age, and gender. There are indeed variables that come into play with average serve speed in tennis, but skill is the major determinant.
Why is the Second Average Serve Speed Slower Than The First?
One interesting thing to note as you study the average serve speed in tennis is that the first and second serve tend to have a huge speed difference. Why does this happen? Is there a reason professional players shave off some of the speed?
For those who watch tennis more often than they play it, the difference between the first and second serve is minute. However, the first and second serve are performed differently, resulting in the speed variances you see in the charts above. The first serve is generally a flat serve, with the goal being speed and power. During the first serve, the player is attempting an ace.
Yet, it doesn’t make much sense to aim for an ace two times in a row. Ideally, the first serve is all risk. The second serve is more for a reward.
Thus, players aim for a kick serve or a slice curve serve. In other words, the second serve relies far more on technique. Relying on technique forces the player to approach the serve more slowly and methodically. Rather than rocketing the ball over the net, they are trying to knock their opponent off balance, so the ball cannot be effectively returned.
One of the key ways to do this is by adding more spin.
So while a player may hit the ball with the same strength that generates over 100 mph (160 km/h) of speed as in the first serve, the spin decelerates the ball faster. This, too, works to slow down the overall speed of the serve.
How Do I Increase My Average Serve Speed in Tennis?
Want to boost your average tennis serve speed up a few notches? Whether you are a beginner to tennis or have been playing for years, there are some things to keep in mind that will help increase your serve speed:
- Starting stance
- Rotation of the body
- Power position
- Racket drop
- Following through
Now what do each of these mean?
You have two choices when performing a strong serve: the platform stance and the pinpoint stance. Both stances have their pros and cons, which you should carefully weigh when deciding which works for you. However, the pinpoint stance is going to deliver far more power, because you can distribute force between both legs. Since there is more movement throughout the body, you can smash the ball, delivering more speed.
Where is your body when you serve the ball? As your skill level increases, you realize that the rotation of the upper body is pivotal to mastering a fast serve. Imagine a coil. The arms and shoulders should be driving most of the momentum in the body, not the hips. If the hips are the major rotational force, you create disparity.
One thing you will notice about professional players with a fast average serve speed is that they tend to linger in a “power position” or “trophy position” for a few milliseconds before throttling the ball. You can start working on a good power position on your own, without hitting a ball. Otherwise, it is best to have a coach or partner assist with your stance.
Most players with a decent average tennis serve speed achieve it by putting their shoulders at a 45-degree angle to the ground when serving. This feeds into your power position.
When discussing players with high average serve speeds, you might think of Roger Federer. However, Andy Roddick, who had about 10 mph on Federer, is different in one key way. Roddick’s racket drop.
The video below analyzes Roddick’s tennis serve form, including his deep racket drop:
Why is this important? Because the farther the racket travels to the target, the more momentum and force you can generate.
In time, you may find that your grip simply is not adequate for the amount of speed you want to serve on average. Pronation is often the way to go. Many professionals utilize a continental grip during a serve and twist or pronate their forearm in conjunction with a good racket drop.
You have probably watched dozens of amateur and professional tennis matches. Have you ever noticed that those with skill do not freeze in the serve? No, they follow through with the ball. In comparison, a less experienced player will stop the serving motion as soon as the ball hits the racket.
What does this do? Well, the sooner you impede the directional force adding momentum to the ball, the faster than speed diminishes. You will also see this when doing a groundstroke. You have to stay connected to the ball for as long as possible so that the speed of the racket translates to the ball.
The follow through is necessary for first and second serves, and it will increase the speed and spin on your serves.
Now Your Serve is Anything But Average
What is the average tennis serve speed? For professional male players, it’s around 120 mph (190-200 km/h), while pro women average around 105 mph (170-180 km/h). The second serve tends to be around 10-20 mph (16-32 km/h) slower than the first. Yet, recreational players may find themselves only averaging around 80-100 mph (128-160 km/h). Because average tennis serve speed is heavily reliant on your skill and technique, you can increase it with practice!