Serena Williams has racked up a total of 23 Grand Slam singles titles over the last two decades, putting her in elite company at the very top of the sport.
The American has long been one of the most recognised brand ambassadors for the Wilson Blade line of racquets, but which specific model does she use, and can you buy it? Let's take a look.
What Racquet Does Serena Williams Use?
While a career-long user of Wilson racquets, Serena has only used the SW102 since the middle of 2020, after a year-long collaboration with Wilson Labs.
The new Blade SW102 Autograph racket is two inches smaller in its head size than her previous frame. Although a minor change, the decreased head size allowed us to modify the racket’s flex points along its string bed and frame to add the level of control Serena Williams was looking for without impacting the power of her play. We took the same stiffness and feel she loved in her previous racket and re-engineered it into a smaller geometry. With a smaller frame, you naturally add control. Ron Rocchi, Wilson
What Specification is Serena's Racquet?
The Wilson Blade SW102 is a 28-inch racquet, which is 1 inch longer than the standard 27-inch frames that most players use. This provides a slightly extended reach but also allows the generation of more power.
In terms of how Serena's specification differs from the retail model, the main difference is that the drill layup on her racquet is slightly different from the retail model; this gives her actual racquet a slightly more open string pattern that helps with more power and topspin generation.
The spec that really stands out in this frame is the high swing weight; this frame is not easy to swing and is on a par with what you find most ATP players using, except Andy Murray, who is around 380 kg.cm2 swing weight which is uncharted territory.
You can see the specs of the retail SW102 below. I'm hoping to get the specs from a match used Serena SW102 shortly.
Retail Wilson Blade SW102 Specification
|Head Size||102 in2 / 658.06 cm2|
|Length||28in / 71.12cm|
|Strung Weight||11.4oz / 323g|
|Balance||13.18in / 33.48cm|
|Beam Width||22.5mm / 22.5mm / 22.5mm|
|Grip Type||Wilson Pro Performance|
|String Pattern||18 Mains / 19 Crosses|
Why Does Serena Use the Blade SW102?
Serena has always had a penchant for the oversized racquet, and this is an outlier compared to most of the top women who are using between 98 and 100 square inch frames.
It's an interesting choice for her to make as most players using extended racquets and larger head sizes tend to be more diminutive in stature. In contrast, Serena is tall, muscular and has a lot of natural power, so you'd expect her to be using a more control orientated racquet that's a thin beam and headlight in balance.
Instead, she has a very high swing weight frame (most women would struggle to manoeuvre this racquet effectively), thick beam and a very forgiving head size that is designed to provide a ton of power.
The SW102 is difficult to get moving, but once you get momentum, the ball will absolutely fly off this frame, and you can see why she's been able to overpower virtually everyone on tour for the last 20 years.
Interestingly as you will see below, Serena has recently moved from 104 to 102 square inches head size, which, although a negligible change, will offer her slightly more control.
Has Serena Changed Racquet Specs In Her Career?
Both Serena and Venus started life on tour using Yonex frames, the former using the Yonex Super RQ 300. In 1998 they both switched to Wilson.
Serena won her first slam in 1999 using a Hammer 6.4 Stretch OS 110. She briefly played with a nCode 3 OS 113 paint job before switching to the new K-Blade Team 104 in 2007.
Serena stuck with a 104 square inch Blade until 2020 and then switched to the SW102 Blade.
I love my previous Blade tennis racket, and it’s been a huge part of my game, but I knew I needed to make adjustments. A tennis racket is such a sensitive thing. I talked with Wilson about wanting more control and what that could look like, and importantly, feel like. So, we got to work. I am really into technology and trying new things out. And while the process was long, we ultimately designed exactly what I need for my game. I’ve had this new racket in my hands for most of this year, and it just feels right. Serena on her switch to the SW102
Serena Williams OId Blade 104 Specs
You can see Serena's specs for her old Wilson Blade 104 below.
|Head Size||104 in²|
|Unstrung Weight||312 g|
|Strung Weight||330 g|
|Balance||34cm / Around 1pts HL when strung|
|Swing Weight||366 kg.cm2 (strung)|
|String Pattern||18 x 19|
|Grip Style||Custom grip pallet (Head shape) + Tournagrip|
|Grip Size||4 5/8 in (L5)|
What String Setup Does Williams Use?
Serena has used this setup since 2012, when she changed from a full bed of Wilson Natural Gut. She initially tried Federer's setup with the Luxilon Alu Power Rough in the crosses but didn't like the feel.
Wilson then recommended Luxilon 4G to her, which was brand new at the time, she liked the softer feel, and that's what has been in her racquet for the last nine years.
This setup is great to play with, you get the natural gut properties, which is power, tension maintenance and feel, and then the polyester can temper the power by helping impart more spin on the ball.
Can You Buy Serena's Racquet?
You can get the Wilson Blade SW102 Autograph from pretty much all major tennis retailers. It won't be an exact match to her spec frame due to the drill holes being slightly different, but you're essentially getting her racquet.
Should you buy it? Maybe but I think the use case for a frame like this is only for a tiny number of players so I would recommend demoing the racquet first.
You'll need to be physically strong as it's a very high swing weight. You will also need to play with a more compact swing with an emphasis on hitting flat to really reap the rewards of the power it can generate. Stringing at a higher tension like Serena will also be beneficial.
If you're a fast arm, topspin baseliner, while you'll like the power when you hit through the ball, over the course of a match it will probably lead to too many errors as you won't get the required control from the SW102.
What do you guys think of the Wilson Blade SW102 Autograph? Let me know in the comments.