Over the last two decades, the world has enjoyed the play of Serena Williams. She has won a total of 23 grand slam singles titles, and will go down in history as one of the best to ever play the game when she finally calls it quits.
She is a strong baseline player with powerful strokes and one of the hardest serves in the history of the sport. Playing with some form of a Wilson racquet for most of her professional career, many ask, what racquet she plays with. Thats what we will go through here.
What racquet does Serena play with? Serena Williams Plays with the Wilson Blade SW104 Racquet that is specifically designed for her game. Serena’s racquet differ a bit to the stock versions. Not only does it have a larger than average head size of 104 inches, but it is an extended length of 28 inches.
Is The Racquet Actually What It Looks Like?
A few years ago, Wilson decided to reward some of their top players with special releases to closely mimic what they actually use on the court. Roger Federer and Serena Williams have been at the top of their game on their respective tours for close to two decades.
Wilson has always sold racquets that were similar to their top players, but they made a concerted effort to make these close to identical thanks in large part to public demand. Players were clamoring for the racquets pros actually use.
In the early part of Serena’s career, she did not customize her racquet all that much. It was not until she started working with Patrick Mouratoglou in 2012 that she began messing around with added weight in certain areas. This allowed her to hit with a bit more power as she started to age, and it is hard to argue with the results.
Serena’s Racquet Compared To The Stock Version
The main difference a person would notice between the stock option and her actual racquet is the weight, and the swing weight. The swing weight of the stock option is 341, but Serena likes to be in the 355 to 360 range. The best way to describe it is that her racquet feels more like a heavier, head weighted club compared to the more balanced stock option.
One thing that Wilson should be commended for is offering a racquet that is 28 inches long. This is a move away from the norm, but Serena has used an extended racquet over her career. It is a bit of an adjustment for players going from a more traditional 27-inch racquet to a 28-inch racquet, but it does help with a little more reach, and a slightly more powerful serve.
If modded, a player can get this racquet to be virtually the same setup as Serena. What works for her might not work for every single player though, so every racquet should be modded with the actual player in mind.
Specs of Serena Williams Racquet
The Wilson Blade SW104 has the following specs:
- Head size: 104 square inches
- Length: 28 inches
- Weight (strung): 11.4 ounces
- Swing weight: 341
- Stiffness: 68
- String Pattern: 18×19
Serena’s Racquet Customization
Serena customizes her own racquet to add a few more fractions of an ounce to get the swing weight up to 355-360. This gives her a bit more depth and power on her shots.
As for as strings are concerned, the racquet should be strung in the 50-60 pounds range. Despite the recommendation, Serena Williams herself tends to string her racquets in the mid-60s most of the year. This will differ depending on the weather, the surface, how she’s currently playing, etc.
She uses a hybrid setup of Wilson Natural Gut/Luxilon 4G in her racquets. It is common for a lot of professional players to use hybrid strings for the perfect feel.
How Does The Racquet Play?
It is highly recommended that any person considering the Wilson Blade SW104 should try it out before committing. It definitely plays differently than a lot of other professional racquets out there, so there is an adjustment period.
Hitting groundstrokes consistently might take a little bit of time because of the added length on the racquet. Timing might be a little off at first, but the 104 square inches of hitting space is pretty forgiving. Even when not modified in any way, this racquet swings like a hammer. Once a person gets their swing calculated, it is a very powerful weapon off the ground.
Control isn’t the best off of the ground, but it is easy to benefit from the dense 18×19 string pattern. There is still some room for spin, but the closed pattern helps keep the ball in play.
This is the one area where a lot of people will notice the length of the racquet right away. Well the added inch does allow for a better reach, it can be tough to maneuver the racquet on hard balls hit at the body.
This is where the racquet probably scores the lowest.
Maneuverability is just not there compared to a lot of other racquets. It feels cumbersome at net at times, and therefore is not recommended for players who already struggle with their volleys. This is just going to make things that much more difficult, constantly fighting the racquet in order to get in the right position.
Volleying might be a challenge with a longer racquet, but the trade-off is a much-improved serve. This is one of the best racquets on the market for people who really want to serve consistently, and with plenty of power.
The extra length allows for a slightly better angle off of the racquet in the beginning. The huge sweet spot allows for a lot of power as well. There might be some people who struggle with control thanks to the added power, but it is an adjustment that doesn’t take too much time.
This racquet is a very powerful weapon in the right hands. Maneuverability is definitely a negative that people should not ignore, but some players can make up for that in other ways. It’s a very powerful racquet that is rewarding for those who are able to set up the shots they want to hit.
Who Should Use Serena’s Racquet?
At first glance, many people would look at a large head size on a racquet and think that it is perfect for players in need of some forgiveness. After all, older players tend to go for more oversize racquets, and that improves their game tremendously.
The sweet spot might be a little bigger with the Wilson Blade SW104, but this is a very advanced racquet. Players are only going to have success if they have very good footwork, and fast preparation on shots. Otherwise, the racquet is going to be too cumbersome to utilize in a big way.
Control is also not the best with this racquet, so it isn’t going to help a person already missing a lot of shots with other racquet options. It is recommended more for players who have control down, but might need slightly more power off the ground and with their serve.
Finally, patience is needed for any player giving this a true shot. Even top players would need some time to adjust to a racquet that plays as different as this one. If it still doesn’t feel right after a few hours of play, that is when a person should feel comfortable making their ultimate decision.
Can You Buy Serena’s Racquet?
The signature Serena Williams model is available at virtually any tennis store worldwide. Wilson is a huge manufacturer, and they have been pushing this model since its release pretty heavily.
There is the traditional model out there, as well as a few limited-edition options as well. There is also an order Wilson Blade 104 that plays very similarly to this one, but with a 27.5-inch length. It’s a little difficult to find these days in stock, but it’s worth looking into if the racquet feels great other than the length.
Like most signature tennis racquet options these days, The Wilson Blade SW104 retails for somewhere between $200-250. It is available in all standard grip sizes, depending on the player’s hand size. You can check the current price on Amazon here.
It is easy for a lot of tennis players to get caught up in wanting to use the same exact racquet as their favorite player. While that sometimes makes sense, not everyone plays the same way as players on tour.
The Wilson Blade SW104 is built for a specific type of player to get the most out of. No, a person doesn’t have to be as good as Serena Williams to make it work, but they do need to play somewhat similarly to her style, relative to their own level.
If the Wilson Blade SW104 doesn’t work for everyone, there are some other options out there in the Wilson family to consider. Mess around with a few options and see what exactly is available.