In a game of Tennis, one of the biggest weapons a player can have is a deadly serve that puts him/her at an advantage when compared to his/her opponent. Possessing very fast service speed is great, but this has to be paired up with great precision. Some tennis players have built their reputation over hitting the ball at ridiculous speeds that helped them ascend the tennis pyramid. In this article, we will be analysing the ATP’s official record for the fastest tennis serves in tennis, among other aspects of the game.
What can you expect to come across throughout the blog:
- Average Tennis Serve Speed
- Fastest Tennis serve ever recorded
- Women’s Fastest Tennis serves recorded
- The fastest second serve in Tennis
Average Tennis Serve Speed
Like other sports in the world, players take different routes in how they conduct their craft and in Tennis, it’s no different. Some players tend to elect for inch-perfect precision rather than raw speed when taking their serve. To set up the scene, the average speed of a first serve is usually around the 190-200 km/h or 120 mph mark in men’s professional tennis and around the 170/180 km/h or 105 mph mark in women’s professional tennis.
The speed records change from time to time as the racquet and string technology continue to advance and ultimately pushing these numbers even higher. The records being set in recent years seem unbeatable, but like other records set in the past, there might be faster serve speed in the future.
How is speed recorded?
Some might be curious as to how the speed is recorded in a relatively small space and a small object in motion such as the tennis ball. For example, during Wimbledon, two specially designed radar sensors are positioned behind the baseline at either end of the court. Once a player strikes the ball for the first serve in a rally, the radar shoots out a frequency that bounces off the ball to detect its speed. It’s a very sophisticated technology that has evolved over the years, and one can say it’s reliable. Records for the fastest serve started in 1968 when the Grand Slam tournaments allowed tennis professionals to compete with amateurs.
Why is speed important?
In this section, we will investigate why having the fastest serve is important. Serves in tennis can be similar to set pieces in football. They are not the only route to success, but if you manage to pull off a string of great serves, you have a great chance to win. Some speeds that men and women manage to pull off are quite extraordinary, with women’s tennis serves recorded at 210.8 km h or 131 mph, and the fastest men’s tennis serves at 253 km h 157.2 mph.
Speed is mainly important to make it difficult for the opponent to react to the trajectory of the ball, and if he/she manages to counter the serve, it will most likely either go out of bounds or hit the net. So having an above-average serve speed will test the opponent’s ability to react to the ball in time, and also, it might force a shift in the positioning, opening up more areas to target. So if a player has a plan of how they are going to play, throwing a couple of high-speed serves might make him/her change their approach to the game. One of the athletes who is well known for her serve speed is Sabine Lisicki, who has the world record for the most consecutive aces in a match. In a clip that will be further down in the article, one can see the visible annoyance of the opponent who isn’t given a chance to counter that serve and contest the point.
Fastest Tennis serve ever recorded.
Big-serving players have benefitted throughout Tennis history. One of the most advanced weaponry in a tennis player’s arsenal is, without a doubt, a powerful, well-placed first serve. Whilst most professionals can put the ball anywhere they want, only a few are capable of reaching speeds in the upper 140s and also the 150s and keeping it within bounds.
The unofficial fastest serve ever recorded was by Sam Groth, registering a whopping 263.4 km/h or 163.7 mph, but unfortunately for the Australian, the ATP does not recognise the record due to the game being set at a Challenger tournament. The ATP only recognise accomplishments and serves speeds in games that utilise ATP-approved equipment.
Many players in the list have had other speeds, but we are taking only one serve speed to feature as their highest.
John Isner – 253 km h 157.2 mph
John Robert Isner is an American professional tennis player who was ranked as high as No. 8 in the world in singles and No. 14 in doubles by the ATP. One of the players who is mostly regarded as the sport’s quickest consistent server, and his height plays a significant factor in his ability to strike aces. The American stands at a 2.08 m (six foot 10 inches). John Isner has hit many serves above 150 mph during his career, but his fastest serve was in the 2016 Davis Cup. In a tie against Australia, the American unleashed a huge serve, setting the record books alight with a 253 km h 157.2 mph service. That service is, until the day of writing, the fastest male tennis serve ever recorded.
Ivo Karlovic – 251 km h 156.0 mph
Once again, it was a Davis Cup match that provided, at the time, the fastest serve. Ivo Karlovic was a fantastic server as he has the most career aces with about 13,000 of them. His personal greatest record was set at the 2011 Davis Cup. Karlovic shattered Andy Roddick’s previous record, which stood at 249.4 km h (155.0 mph). The serve was against Croatia in the first round; he fired an ultimate bullet of a service that was recorded at 251 km h 156.0 mph.
Andy Roddick – 249.4 km h 155.0 mph
Andy Roddick was the best American tennis player of his generation, and at one point in his career, he was ranked number one in the world. He had built his reputation of having a blistering serve, and he relied heavily on it. His height (6 foot 2 inches) might not be the tallest in a sport full of giants, but he cemented his name in the record books by smashing Rusedski’s world record for fastest serve in the Davis Cup semi-final in 2004. His entry comes when he launched the ball at an impressive 249.4 km h 159 mph. The record set by Andy Roddick stood for seven years before Ivo Karlovic elapsed his record once again in the Davis Cup.
Women’s Fastest tennis serves recorded.
In Tennis, women’s tennis is played under a different association which is the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association). Similarly, the WTA recognises games that are using up to standard technology, especially when serve speed is considered. The fastest female tennis serve ever recorded was by Spanish player Georgina Garcia Perez when she hit a 220 km h, or 136.7 mph serve in the second round match of qualifying at the 2018 Hungarian Ladies Open. Similar to the situation with Sam Groth, this serve speed is not the WTA recognised fastest serve as it was not recorded at a main draw level of a WTA event.
So let’s run through some of the WTA recognised fastest female tennis serve:
Leading the charts for the fastest serve ever recorded is the German Sabine Lisicki. The serve that got Lisicki the fastest women’s tennis serve was back in 2014 at the Stanford Classic tournament. In this tournament, Sabine managed to blast 27 aces which is also a WTA record under her name. Meaning that she had won 27 consecutive points from her first serve, giving her a guarantee success rate in big matches. In this mentioned tournament, she had struck the ball at 210.8 km h or 131 mph, which would have been a record at the time, but the service was called out, meaning invalid. This record was then done when she struck a bomb in the first round with the same speed of 131 mph. You can watch the service here.
Brenda Schultz-McCarthy, who is primarily known by her maiden name Brenda Schultz is a former Dutch professional tennis player whose career peaked when she reached World no. 9 in 1996 after reaching the quarterfinals at Wimbledon and the US Open in 1995. Like any other player on this list, Brenda Schultz was known for her impeccable serve speed and technique, which was way above the normal range expected in Women’s tennis. She recorded one of her fastest serves hit in 2006 when she was competing in the Cincinnati Masters. The serve speed was measured to be 209.2 km h 130 mph.
The American superstar and former world No. 1 in both singles and doubles is surely one of the sport’s greatest athletes. Williams has won seven Grand Slam singles titles, five of which at Wimbledon and the other two at the US Open. To be one of the greatest players, one has to have one of the fastest servers possible to give you that extra edge. Venus certainly had that in her locker, and evidently so in the 2007 US Open when her fastest recorded serve hit 207.6 km h 129 mph. A study conducted on service speed records showed that the norm is that players hit their fastest serve in tournaments other than in Grand Slams. This might come down to the pressure of competing for such a major title.
Serena Williams and Ivana Jorovic
This entry is a tie as both players managed to register the same speed, that of 207 km h 128.6 mph. Serena Williams is an American professional tennis player who has been ranked the singles world No. 1 by the WTA for 319 weeks, including a joint record of 186 consecutive weeks. On the other hand, Ivana Jorovic is a lower-profile tennis player who won 12 singles and two doubles titles on the ITF Circuit, with her highest ranking being No. 86 in July 2019.
Both of these players managed to register the same fastest women’s tennis serves of 207 km h 128.6 mph. Serena Williams registered her effort in the 2013 Australian Open, whilst Ivana Jorovic managed to match that speed in her participation in the 2017 Fed Cup.
The fastest second serve in Tennis
A few select players have the ability to his second serves faster than most tennis players can hit on their first serves. Throughout the Open Era, very little data gathered appeared to focus on second serve speeds, so the list here is limited, to name a few:
Ivo Karlovic is a Croatian professional tennis player. His height of 211cm makes him the joint tallest ranked tennis player in history, along with Reilly Opelka. He won eight ATP singles titles between 2007 and 2016. It’s no surprise to see the Croatian giant top the list once again with the fastest second serve. Karlovic managed to clock a 232 km h 14.2 mph in the qualification for the 2007 Legg Mason Tennis Classic. His opponent Paul Capdeville had no response to the speed and accurate serve speed by Ivo Karlovic.
Nicholas Kyrgios is an Australian professional tennis player who has competed in singles, with a career-high ATP ranking of No. 13 in October 2016. The Australian fan favourite notched his name into the fastest serve record books when he played Rafael Nadal in the second round match of the 2019 Wimbledon. The game was very competitive, with both players giving it their all in the opening stages. Kyrgios registered a blistering second serve speed of 230 km h 143 mph, which stunned the Spaniard.
Alexander Stanislavovich Bublik is a Russian-born Kazakhstani professional tennis player who reached his highest ranking of No. 30 in February 2022. He also is the No. 1 singles player in Kazakhstan. The third fastest serve ever recorded came from Alexander Bublik 2020. He was playing against Frances Tiafoe in the second round of the Citi Open when he blasted his service, reaching the speed of 222 km h 138 mph.
Bet on Tennis
You can observe how great serves give an advantage to a player when the US Open starts. This tournament will be the last major tournament of the year. Qualifiers for the tournament are at the moment being played, so make sure to check the best odds on those games. Feel free to book your front-row seat to the action with LV BET. Take advantage of LV BET’s betting markets to diversify your bets and stick close to the thrilling action.
We hope that by reading this blog post, you have learnt something of value and will keep an eye out for those high-speed serves in upcoming tennis matches. Thank you for reading the world’s fastest serve with LV BET.
If you’re interested in reading more related articles, feel free to continue browsing the LV BET Sports Blog, where we delve deep into Tennis news and announcements. Use your summer break to brush up on the business of sports betting.