How fast do pro tennis players hit the ball?

In the last 20 years, the tennis ball speeds of professional players have broken the barrier of sound. Well, tennis balls don’t go as fast as the speed of sound, but you get the point.

Due to constant improvements in rackets technology and technical ability of the players, combined with advanced movement physics analysis, pro tennis players hit the ball at speeds that are simply mesmerizing to watch.

Amateur players will have a difficult time playing with professional players, starting with a hard time they would get to just see the ball and adjust their body fast enough to hit it.

So, how fast do pro tennis players hit the ball?

The average speed of a tennis ball hit by a professional tennis player is 75 Mph (120 Kph) – to put this value in perspective, this is the legal speed limit on highways in most European countries!

Serves are the fastest type of balls there is, due to their nature – since they are hit in a downward trajectory, allowing for speedier balls than other types of shots.

The average tennis serve speed is 125 Mph (201 Kph).

Due to physical differences, women tend to hit the ball at about 80% of the speed of male tennis players – nonetheless impressive, breathtaking, and still completely unplayable for any amateur tennis player!

Below you will find a breakdown of averages and top speeds for various types of tennis shots – serves, forehands and backhands, divided into men’s and women’s tennis, as well as some figures for today’s top tennis players.

Feel free to click on the links below to jump to any part of this article.

Content

Tennis serve speed

As stated above, serves are the fastest type of shot in tennis.

Usually, first serves are hit flat or sliced, giving the ball impressive speeds. It is much more common that the player serving wins the point than the other way around – since the ball speed of serves is so mesmerizing, the player returning the ball will, more often than not, have a hard time returning in a way that causes difficulties for the other player.

Men’s tennis serve speed

Men’s average serve speed

federer tennis serve

The average speed of men’s serve is 125 Mph (201 Kph).

Please take note that these values refer to first serve speeds. Second serves are usually much slower and hit with a lot of rotation – players are much more careful in second serves, because if they fail, they lose the point.

The average speed of men’s second serve is around 110 Mph (177 Kph).

Alexander Zverev is, by far, the player with the top average serve speed in current ATP rankings.

His first serve speed averages at 139 Mph (224 Kph). Matteo Berrettini takes second place in this ranking – his average serve speed is 128 Mph (206 Kph).

After Berrettini, players’ average serve speeds are pretty close to one another.

Men’s fastest serve ever

Men’s fastest serve ever was hit at 163 Mph (263 Kph) and it was recorded by Sam Groth in the 2012 Busan Open Challenger. Unfortunately, ATP does not recognize serve speeds made in Challenger tour events. It was the fastest ace in tennis history.

The ATP’s official record for the fastest serve ever is 157.2 Mph (253 Kph) and it belongs to John Isner, recorded at the 2016 Davis Cup. 

The fastest second serve ever was hit at the impressive speed of 144.8 (233 Kph) at the quarterfinals of the 2021 edition of the Italian Open, by Reilly Opelka.

PlayerSpeedEventRecognized by ATP
Sam Groth263.0 km/h (163.4 mph)2012 Busan Open Challenger TennisNo
Albano Olivetti257.5 km/h (160.0 mph)2012 Internazionali Trofeo Lame Perrel–FaipNo
John Isner253.0 km/h (157.2 mph)2016 Davis CupYes
Ivo Karlovi?251.0 km/h (156.0 mph)2011 Davis CupYes
Jerzy Janowicz251.0 km/h (156.0 mph)2012 Pekao Szczecin OpenNo
Milos Raonic249.9 km/h (155.3 mph)2012 SAP OpenYes
Andy Roddick249.4 km/h (155.0 mph)2004 Davis CupYes
Joachim Johansson244.6 km/h (152.0 mph)2004 Davis CupNo
Ryan Harrison244.6 km/h (152.0 mph)2013 Western & Southern OpenYes
Feliciano López244.6 km/h (152.0 mph)2014 Aegon ChampionshipsYes
Marius Copil244.0 km/h (151.6 mph)2016 European OpenYes
Hubert Hurkacz243.0 km/h (151.0 mph)2016 Davis CupNo
Taylor Dent241.0 km/h (149.8 mph)2006 ABN AMRO World Tennis TournamentYes
Juan Martín del Potro240.0 km/h (149.1 mph)2017 Stockholm OpenYes
Greg Rusedski239.8 km/h (149.0 mph)1998 Newsweek Champions CupYes
Dmitry Tursunov237.0 km/h (147.3 mph)2006 Davis CupNo
Frances Tiafoe237.0 km/h (147.3 mph)2018 Estoril OpenYes
Taylor Fritz237.0 km/h (147.3 mph)2020 US OpenYes
Reilly Opelka236.9 km/h (147.2 mph)2021 US OpenYes

Women’s tennis serve speed

Average Women serve speed

Women tend to hit balls at about 20% less speed than those hit by men, and these figures also apply to serves.

The average women’s serve speed is 105 Mph (169 Kph).

Of the current top WTA players, Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams are the hardest hitters, consistently hitting above the woman’s average. Both of them also feature in the top 20 for the fastest WTA serve ever, as you’ll see below.

Women’s fastest serve ever

Women’s fastest serve speed ever recorded was hit by Georgina Garcia Perez at 136.7 Mph (220 Kph), in the 2018 Hungarian Ladies Open.

However, as happens with men’s records, WTA does not set speed records on tournaments outside the main draw phase of WTA Tour tournaments.

The women’s fastest serve ever recognized by the WTA was recorded at the 2014 Stanford Classic by Sabine Lisicki – it was hit at 131 Mph (210.8 Kph).

As stated above, current top tennis players Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka also feature in this list.

Serena takes 8th place for the fastest serve ever hit by a woman, reaching a speed of 128.6 Mph (207 Kph).

Osaka’s fastest serve ever takes the 14th place in this list, reaching a speed of 125 Mph (201.2 Kph), hit at the 2016 edition of the US Open.

PlayerShot SpeedEventRecognized by WTA

 Georgina García Pérez

220 km/h (136.7 mph)2018 Hungarian Ladies OpenNo
 Aryna Sabalenka214 km/h (133.0 mph)2018 WTA Elite TrophyNo
 Sabine Lisicki210.8 km/h (131.0 mph)2014 Stanford ClassicYes
 Brenda Schultz-McCarthy209.2 km/h (130.0 mph)2006 Cincinnati Masters (qualifiers)No
 Venus Williams207.6 km/h (129.0 mph)2007 US OpenYes
 Alycia Parks207.6 km/h (129.0 mph)2021 US OpenYes
 Ajla Tomljanovic207.6 km/h (129.0 mph)2018 Cincinnati MastersYes
 Serena Williams207 km/h (128.6 mph)2013 Australian OpenYes

 Ivana Jorovi

207 km/h (128.6 mph)2017 Fed CupNo
 Julia Görges203 km/h (126.1 mph)2012 French OpenYes
 Caroline Garcia203 km/h (126.1 mph)2016 Fed CupNo
 Brenda Schultz-McCarthy202.7 km/h (126.0 mph)2007 Indian Wells MastersYes
 Nadiya Kichenok202 km/h (125.5 mph)2014 Australian OpenYes
 Naomi Osaka201.2 km/h (125.0 mph)2016 US OpenYes
 Lucie Hradecká201.2 km/h (125.0 mph)2015 WimbledonYes
 Anna-Lena Grönefeld201.1 km/h (125.0 mph)2009 Indian Wells MastersYes
 Coco Gauff201 km/h (124.9 mph)2021 Wimbledon ChampionshipsYes
 Bernarda Pera201 km/h (124.9 mph)2021 US OpenYes
 Ana Ivanovic201 km/h (124.9 mph)2007 French OpenYes
 Denisa Allertová201 km/h (124.9 mph)2015 Australian OpenYes
 Kristina Mladenovic200 km/h (124.3 mph)2009 French OpenYes

Tennis forehand speed

The forehand is the second-fastest type of shot in tennis, only after the serve.

Due to the explosive body movement that is needed to execute this shot, forehands are generally hit much harder than backhands.

Men’s tennis forehand speed

Men’s average forehand speed

Men’s forehand speed averages 78 Mph (125 KPh).

These are astonishing figures, considering that these values are averages and that, in a tennis match, hundreds (if not thousands) of forehands are hit.

To be consistently hitting these numbers require physical endurance that is out of this world.

Forehand speeds, just as any shot in tennis, are dependent on the technique that is employed, body rotation and general body movement, accuracy on the perfect moment to hit the ball, and, of course, pure raw physical power.

PlayerAverage Forehand Speed (Mph)Average Forehand Speed (Kph)
Keys81131
Hradecka79127
Giogi79127
Mlandenovic78126
Hercog78126
Stosur78125
Kulichkova77124

Men’s fastest forehand ever

The fastest forehand ever hit has reached a speed of 124 Mph (199 Kph) and was hit by Andy Murray.

Some other top players who have been able to demonstrate monstrous forehands include Fernando Verdasco, James Blake, and Andrey Rublev.

Women’s tennis forehand speed

Women’s average forehand speed

The average woman’s forehand speed in the WTA is 74 Mph (119 Kph).

Madison Keys is the only player in the WTA whose forehand average speed surpasses 80 Mph, at an observed average of 81.29 Mph (130 Kph).

The notorious Williams sisters (Serena Williams and Venus Williams), known for consistently hitting their balls fast, average their forehand speed at “just” 73 Mph (117 Kph) – meaning that, even though they hit the ball hard, they carefully choose the perfect moment to speed up the ball to win the point.

PlayerAverage Forehand Speed (Mph)Average Forehand Speed (Kph)
Keys81131
Hradecka79127
Giogi79127
Mlandenovic78126
Hercog78126
Stosur78125
Kulichkova77124

Women’s fastest forehand ever

Serena Williams holds the record for the fastest woman’s forehand ever recorded, at 96 Mph (154 Kph).

Serena’s forehands have always been terrifying, and this record is proof of it – her rallies could for sure be competing with most male professional players.

Tennis backhand speed

Backhands are the slowest type of shot, due to the intricate body movement and rotation that are necessary to execute it.

Backhands can be executed with one or two hands holding the racket, up to the individual preference of the player. It has been observed that players that execute backhands with two hands typically reach higher average speeds than those who execute it with one hand.

Nevertheless, tennis pros still execute backhands at extraordinary speeds, much greater than the average forehand of amateur players.

Men’s tennis backhand speed

Men’s average backhand speed

Men’s average backhand speed is 70 Mph (112 Kph).

From players competing today in the ATP, we find that Wawrinka has one of the highest backhand average speeds, at 75 Mph (120 Kph), and even reaching more than 82 Mph (131 Kph) on some shots.

Other top players who consistently hit above-average speeds on their backhands include David Ferrer, Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal. The last one holds the record for the fastest backhand ever registered.

PlayerAverage Backhand Speed (Mph)Average Backhand Speed (Kph)
Gulbis76122
Ankuznetsov76122
Giraldo75121
Cuevas75121
Wawrinka75121
Bellucci75120
Verdasco75120

Men’s fastest backhand ever

nadal backhand

Men’s fastest backhand ever recorded reached a speed of 103 Mph (165 Kph), and it was performed by tennis legend Rafael Nadal, at National Bank Open in Montreal, Canada, in a match against Novak Djokovic.

Women’s tennis backhand speed

Women’s average backhand speed

In backhands, the difference in shots speeds between men and women is not as big as it is in forehands and serves.

Women’s backhand speeds average at 68 Mph (109 Kph).

Honorable mentions in this category include Camila Giorgi, Madison Keys, and Lucie Hradecká.

Player

Average Backhand Speed (Mph)

Average Backhand Speed (Kph)
Li75120
Keys75120
Tomljanovic74120
Babos74119
Begu74119
Hradecka73118
Knapp73117

Women’s fastest backhand ever

serena williams backhand

The woman’s fastest backhand ever recorded belongs to tennis legend Serena Williams, at 97 Mph (156 Kph) at the 2004 Wimbledon quarterfinal – not much less than the men’s record.

To Wrap Up

The speed that which professional tennis players hit the ball is simply astonishing.

Advanced hitting techniques, intensive movement physics studies, and improvements in rackets technology have allowed for the speed that which tennis balls are hit to be constantly rising. The title for the best tennis ball is constantly being updated due to this.

Tennis balls speeds are usually higher on hard surfaces than on other types of surfaces. To try to reach this speeds, feel free to check our guide to find the best tennis ball for hard courts.

The average speed of a tennis ball hit by a pro tennis player is 75 Mph (120 Kph).

The speed of tennis shots varies between the different types of shots – serves are the fastest, followed by forehands and backhands, respectively.

Reccomended Articles
Pro Penn Marathon Review

Pro Penn Marathon review The Pro Penn Marathon tennis balls are Penn’s top-shelf tennis balls.  This model is a serious contender for the top

Read Article >>