Let’s take a quick look at the Venus Williams Biography and then we will analyse her game in detail. Venus has been one of the best players on the women’s professional tour since the late 1990?s!
Born in Lynwood California in 1980, Venus has been a tennis phenom from a very young age. World-famous coach Rick Macci, whose academy she attended for many years, once compared her to a female version of Michael Jordan.
She did not compete much in the junior circuits and instead practiced for six hours every day at the Macci academy until she turned pro at age 14.
Since then she has won 43 singles titles, including 7 grand slam titles! In the year 2000 she pretty much dominated women’s tennis, winning Wimbledon, the US Open and the Olympic Gold Medal in Sydney.
Let’s have a look at Venus Williams’s game in the context of the four areas of Tennis (Technical, Tactical, Physical, Mental)
Venus practising her powerful forehand
Watch for the high finish every time. A great thing to copy for recreational players!
Williams has a very strong forehand. The stroke mechanics look quite similar to her sister’s mechanics. This of course is not surprising since they had the same coach (Rick Macci) during their junior years.
Venus has great extension on her forehand resulting in great depth!
This extension combined with a high finish position results in great depth and her balls really penetrate the court. Like most women she does not hit too much topspin on her forehand. Her flat down the line forehand is especially dangerous for opponents!
She achieves all of the key body positions and overall has great stroke mechanics on this shot!
To learn more about great stroke mechanics visit the Tennis Video Instruction page on this website!
Venus backhand mechanics look a little different than the mechanics of most great two-handed backhands. Nonetheless, the most essential fundamentals are correct and she hits a very strong backhand.
The down the line backhand is usually her strongest shot!
She takes the racket back low rather than high on the backswing. This results in a very small loss of the maximum possible racket acceleration. Also she has a grip that is a bit unusual. Her right hand is shifted toward more of a forehand grip, especially with the heel pad. This results in extreme left-arm domination.
Essentially, you could say that she hits a left-handed forehand with the right arm coming along for the ride.
I would not teach this grip or these mechanics to young players but Venus obviously makes it work with her incredible talent.
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Very rarely have I seen Venus Williams use a slice backhand.
She probably feels very comfortable with her topspin backhand and most likely has not spent much time practicing slice backhands in her career. I have not seen enough slice backhands of hers to really analyse the stroke. The few that I have seen actually looked pretty good though.
Her backhand volley is solid, so it is very likely that she can hit pretty good slice backhands as well since the mechanics are highly related.
From a tactical standpoint I believe Venus would be well advised to hit more slice backhands from defensive positions.
She usually does not hit the two-hander that well on the run and the slice will give her more time to recover back to the middle.
Venus has a very solid net game!
She has won many doubles titles with her sister and can play the net quite effectively. She manages to keep the racket face stable on both forehand and backhand volleys with the racket face not too open.
My guess is that she shifts the grip a little bit from forehand to backhand volley. Many players do this without being aware of it! This shift is so minimal though that it is very tough to see on TV or even in slow motion. Overall very solid volley mechanics which allow her to come in to the net and finish points early in her singles matches.
Now without a doubt Venus Williams has a strong serve! She has won many points and tournaments with her serve as a weapon.
Nevertheless, I believe there are some technical issues with her serve and she has also struggled with it many times throughout her career.
Especially her second serve gets quite weak at times and the great players will really punish her for that by attacking second serves relentlessly!
A weak second serve attacked by her sister Serena!
From a technical standpoint the good news is that she really has a fluid motion without a stop of the racket. This is why she can still get good acceleration in my opinion.
The main problem I see with her service motion is the body position at contact.
Venus is very bent at the waist and also quite tilted to the left when she contacts the ball. This results in a relatively low contact point. Her second serves tend to be too short because of this problem.
Another thing that I think is problematic is where she places her right foot when moving it forward. She places it quite far over to the right of the left foot. Because of that her hips and her whole body are already facing towards the net very early rather than staying sideways longer.
Venus Williams’s game is based on power.
She tries to dictate points early on in the rally and generally prefers to keep points short.
She is not just an offensive baseline player though.
What sets her apart from a lot of other powerful baseline players in the women’s game is that she is always looking to follow up her groundstrokes and finish points at the net.
This makes her very dangerous especially on faster surfaces!
She is not a great defensive player though. Once her opponents start to control points she gets in really bad shape. At times I feel like she would be better off risking even more early on during points to avoid getting on defense at all cost; especially when playing girls like Clijsters that move very well!
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Venus is a phenomenal athlete. She is tall which helps her with her serve and she can hit the ball very hard in general. Her firepower from the baseline is probably her biggest strength.
On the other hand, her tall body also makes it difficult for her to move around the court well!
She is not that good at getting back to the middle of the court from the corners and switching directions very quickly. This is probably her greatest weakness compared to some of the other top player nowadays! The game has gotten more athletic and the girls are retrieving more of those powerful groundies that Venus hits to the corners.
Early on in her career Williams appeared mentally tough to me. Even though she has never displayed the same enormous willpower to win that her sister Serena has, she could usually rely on her serve and her other weapons on big points. During recent years that seems to have changed a bit.
Her serve sometimes lets her down when it matters most. Possibly her self-confidence is not as high as it used to be in general.
Another factor I believe is that opponents are simply stronger these days and attack her second serves more. This leads to more pressure on her and in return less confidence on the serve in crucial moments. Nonetheless she still keeps her calm and appears concentrated almost always on the court!
I consider Venus Williams very strong but not exceptional in all four areas. Therefore it is quite difficult to rank her skills.
I decided on the following order:
I think in order to compete for more Grand Slams Venus needs to find ways to control as many points as possible right from the beginning!
One way to work on this would be to do some technical work on her serve. Her body position at contact needs to be more upright and this could lead to a big improvement on first and second serves!
Once the ball is in play I believe Venus could play even more aggressive right from the start!
Finally Venus should work on developing a good defensive slice. She does not defend well with the two-hander on the run and a solid slice could help her a lot I believe!