Whether it's the men's game or the women's, the worth of a powerful and accurate serve can never be overstated. Dictating the point, making service games short, putting pressure on the opponent's serve - these are all some of the valuable perks that come with a powerful serve.
With the evolution of technology, players now use lighter graphite racquets combined with larger sweeter spots - which helps them pack a significant punch with their serve. While men routinely breach the 200 km/h mark in the modern era, a few women have broken that barrier too.
Sabine Lisicki of Germany is the women's player with the fastest recorded serve ever, and her record might remain unbroken for a while. On that note, we take a look at the five players with the fastest serves ever recorded in women's tennis.
Note: Only the serves that have been officially recognized by the WTA have been considered.
#5 Brenda Schultz-McCarthy, Indian Wells 2007
Retired Dutch tennis player Brenda Schultz-McCarthy achieved a career-high ranking of World No. 9 in 1996 - the year in which she was a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon and the US Open. Schultz-McCarthy was one of the consistently good servers in the 90s before her retirement in 1999.
Incidentally, her fastest serve was recorded after her comeback to professional tennis in 2005. At the 2007 Indian Wells Open, Brenda Schultz smashed a 202.7 km/h (126.0 mph) serve against her opponent Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
#4 Julia Goerges, 2012 French Open
Among the best servers on the WTA tour currently, Germany's Julia Goerges often ranks among the players with the most aces in the year. Goerges, who reached a career-high ranking of number 9 in 2018, couples her fast and powerful first serve with a top-spin loaded second serve.
At the 2012 French Open, the German woman clocked a 203.0 km/h (126.1 mph) serve to cement a place for herself among the fastest servers of all time.
#3 Serena Williams, Australian Open 2013
A list of the fastest serves ever recorded in the women's game would be incomplete without the name of the legendary Serena Williams. Serena's powerful serve has bailed her out on many occasions; it has been her go-to weapon under pressure for more than two decades.
Serena Williams didn’t just hit one 203.0 km/h (128.6 mph) serve at the 2013 Australian Open; she hit two of them in her match against Garbine Muguruza. Asked on her achievement in the post-match interview, Serena said - “It’s my fastest that went in. I’ve hit some 150s, but of course they’re, like, to the sky.”
#2 Venus Williams, US Open 2007 and Wimbledon 2008
Much like her younger sibling Serena, Venus Williams also has a very powerful serve in her repertoire.
Standing at 6′1″, Venus is one of the tallest female tennis players around; not surprisingly, her first serve is one of her biggest weapons. That said, Venus is highly reliant on her first serve as her second serve is unreliable - with quite a few double faults coming at inopportune times.
Venus has clocked 207.6 km/h (129.0 mph) twice in her career, first during her 6-2, 6-1 first-round win over Kira Nagy in the first round of the 2007 US Open, and then again during her 7-5, 6-4 win over sister Serena in the 2008 Wimbledon final.
#1 Sabine Lisicki, 2014 Stanford Classic
The German, despite being allergic to "grass", describes the surface as her most preferred. Incidentally, she has tasted more success on grass than on any other surface - most notably reaching at least the quarterfinal of the Wimbledon Championships for four successive years from 2011-2014.
In her match against Ana Ivanovic at the 2014 Stanford Classic, Sabine Lisicki re-wrote the record books by clocking the fastest-ever serve recorded on the WTA tour. The German breached the elusive 130 mph mark for the first time as she clocked a thunderous serve measuring 210.8 km/h (131.0 mph).
Here's a video of the record-breaking serve:Published 15 Jun 2020, 15:53 IST