Hitting a hard, well-placed first serve is one of the biggest weapons any tennis player can have. While most pros can place the ball wherever they want, few can reach into the high 140s and even the 150s with miles per hour speed.
Below are the 20 fastest tennis serves ever, broken into a few different categories. First, the official ATP list is covered. Then, some of the Challenger event serves, as well as speculated fastest serves, make the list as a mention. Finally, the fastest women servers in the history of the sport receive the spotlight.
Officially, these are the 10 fastest serves in the history of tennis. For this to happen, the match must be taking place on the ATP Tour.
1. John Isner – 157.2 mph (253 km/h)
John Isner has hit many serves over 150 mph, but his fastest one in his career happened in the 2016 Davis Cup. He is generally considered the fastest consistent server in the sport’s history, and his height definitely plays a major role in his ability to hit aces.
2. Ivo Karlovic – 156.0 mph (251 km/h)
Much like is there, Ivo Karlovic is mostly known for his serve and his height. He is tied for the tallest player in the history of professional tennis, and his personal record also came at a Davis Cup. During a doubles match in 2011, he hit a serve 156 mph.
3. Andy Roddick – 155.0 mph (249.4 km/h)
On a list filled with giants, Andy Roddick is a rather pedestrian 6’2”tall. He was known very early on as one of the best servers in the history of the sport, and when he had a serve 155 mph in 2004, he shattered the current record at the time by six miles per hour. Even more than 15 years later, he is still one of the fastest to ever do it.
4. Milos Raonic – 155.0 mph (249.4 km/h)
The Canadian was able to tie Andy Roddick with 155 mph for his service in 2012 at the SAP Open. Reaching a career-high number three in the rankings, a lot of that is due to his outstanding first serve.
5. Ryan Harrison – 152.0 mph (244.6 km/h)
With Roddick as his idol, it should come as no surprise that he focused quite a bit on his serve growing up. It certainly paid off, as he has had a lot of success with his serve during his career. In 2013, Harrison hit a serve 152 mph at Western and Southern Open.
He has not reached the level of play he was hoping for, but he is still around the tour and could make a splash later in his career.
6. Feliciano Lopez – 152.0 mph (244.6 km/h)
As a veteran has been around the tour for a long time, many people have forgotten just how great of a server Feliciano Lopez had during the prime of his career. At 39 years old now, he can no longer do that, but in 2014, he reached 152 mph with his serve.
7. Marius Copil – 151.6 mph (244 km/h)
The Romanian has never cracked the top 50 in the rankings, but he is playing some of his best tennis at the moment. There is still a chance that he can break through and have a decent career, but he has always relied heavily on his serve. In the 2016 European Open, he cracked a serve that reached 151.6 mph.
8. Hubert Hurkacz – 151.0 mph (243 km/h)
The current Polish number one player in the world is a 6’5” player who hits extremely hard. His serve has been a huge calling card for him, and at 24 years old, his best day still might be ahead of him. He has been able to win a few matches at Grand Slam events, but he is still looking for a big breakthrough.
9. Taylor Dent – 149.8 mph (241.1 km/h)
There was a point when people believed that Taylor Dent and Andy Roddick were the two hardest servers in the game. He did not have quite as much success as Roddick, but he did reach the fourth round of a couple of Grand Slams, while reaching number 21 in the world. Injuries derailed his career a bit, but the Texas native still had success.
10. Juan Martin del Potro – 149.1 mph (240 km/h)
Out of all the players to make a top 10, no one hit it in the finals match that they won. In 2017, at the Stockholm Open, Juan Martin del Potro beat Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets to take on the title. On the way, he cracked one serve 149.1 mph.
5 Unofficial Fastest Tennis Serves
Whether they were in Challenger events or borderline made up, these five all deserve at least some mention for the fastest in tennis history.
1. Sam Groth – 163.4 mph (263 km/h)
Some people give Groth the title as the fastest server in tennis history, as he did serve a ball 163.4 mph in 2012. It was at a Challenger event, which is why the ATP tour does not recognize the record. The Australian has put up some outstanding speed numbers at the ATP level, but he has yet to match that powerful serve.
2. Bill Tilden – 163.3 mph (262.8 km/h)
As time goes on, certain stories become embellished. Bill Tilden was said to have served one ball 163.3 mph in his prime, but it seems like it would be impossible for that to be true. Not only was the racquet technology very lackluster compared to a century later, but training is much different as well. Like Tanner listed below, he deserves recognition as the fastest server during his era, but it is nothing compared to today’s numbers.
3. Albano Olivetti – 160.0 mph (257.5 km/h)
Coming right behind Sam Groth is Albano Olivieri, a player who hit a 160 mph serve at a Challenger event in 2012. He never found a way to have much success at the ATP level, but the 6’8” Frenchman had one of the scariest serves during his prime.
4. Roscoe Tanner – 153 mph (246.2 km/h)
At Palm Springs in 1978, Roscoe Tanner hit a serve that was clocked in at 153 mph. Many people wonder about the validity of the serve, which would put him near the top of the rankings even today. Considering the technology disadvantages in the 1970s, it seems unlikely that the measurement was entirely accurate. However, he was one of the fastest servers in his era, and should be recognized.
5. Colin Dibley – 148 mph (238.2 km/h)
In 1976, there was an official fast serve contest held at the Westside Tennis Club in Forest Hills. Colin Dibley, an Australian who was a semifinalist at the 1979 Australian Open, won the event by reaching 148 mph. Although never officially a record, it was recorded more accurately than a lot of serves in that area.
5 Fastest Serves In WTA History
Women tennis players can’t match the man when it comes to fast serve speed, but that does not mean that they do not deserve recognition in their own right. There are a few players known for the big serve in the game, and like the men, almost all of the fastest serves have been in the modern era.
1. Sabine Lisicki – 131.0 mph (210.8 km/h)
Sabine Lisicki has a somewhat comfortable lead by 2 mph over everyone else in WTA history. She hit her fastest serve in the 2014 Stanford Classic, but she has had several serves well over 120 mph in her career.
2. Venus Williams – 129.0 mph (207.6 km/h)
Her sister Serena might have more career titles, but Venus can hold onto this crown as the family’s official fastest server. At the 2007 U.S. Open, she hit a serve that was measured at 129 mph.
3. Serena Williams – 128.6 mph (207 km/h)
The fastest server on record for Serena Williams throughout her illustrious career came at the 2013 Australian Open. She had a first serve that traveled 128.6 mph, allowing her to dominate on her serve once again. Known as one of the most consistently fast servers in tennis history, she has plenty over 120 mph on her resume.
4. Julia Goerges – 126.1 mph (202.9 km/h)
When everything is going right, Julia Goeges was able to dominate with her first serve. At the 2012 French Open, she hit a serve that traveled 126.1 mph. The German never quite lived up to lofty expectations, but that first serve put her in the upper echelon of the WTA Tour.
5. Brenda Schultz-McCarthy – 126.0 mph (202.8 km/h)
The oldest player to make this list, Brenda Schultz-McCarthy was a tall, powerful player from the Netherlands who won titles by going big and succeeding with the serve. She reached as high as number nine in the world, and had a pair of quarterfinal appearances at Grand Slam events as well. Her 126 mph serve at the 2007 Indian Wells Masters was briefly the fastest serve in WTA history, before Venus Williams broke it later on that year.