Serena Williams is one of the greatest female tennis player of all time. Hence having the opportunity to be on the court with Varvara Lepchenko while she hit with Serena was an awesome opportunity for me. As I was walking onto Arthur Ashe Stadium tennis court with Varvara chatting about her 2-3 CUES for the practice Serena was already on the court working on a very SPECIFIC SKILL with her coaches. Yes, she has a hitting coach down one end of the court and her technical coach down her end of the court. The drill was specially designed for one very specific skill.
As we came out of the tunnel onto the court Serena looks over to say hello to Varvara and then looks at me with a “who like who are you?” body language (AWARENESS). As the practice gets underway the efficiency behind everything Serena does jumps out. Everything Serena does has a PURPOSE. Every drill, every sequence, every shot was deliberate and directly relevant to what she wants to accomplish on match day.
What was interesting to learn is that Serena does not play practice matches with anyone. Her practices are designed for what skills are needed to achieve her goals. A lot of drills and a lot of hitting live balls to get into a grove. But no points or sets in practice. This is particularly of interest as I have not seen that before ever (fearless, CREATIVE approach-not afraid to do something no ones does). Further, I also found out that Serena does not hit with other players on the tour with a few exceptions. She largely hits with hired practice partners, her sister Venus and Varvara. I didn’t find out exactly why, my guess is it has something to do with the environment or CULTURE she likes around her. No drama, lets get to it, work hard and be done.