Speed of the Fastest Tennis Ball

The Physics Factbook
Edited by Glenn Elert -- Written by his students
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Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Tingay, Lance. The Book of Tennis Facts and Feats. Harcourt Brace, 1984: 19. "'Big Bill' Tilden, in 1931, was credited with 163.3 mph 262.8 km/h. Lester Stoefen, American also, was credited with 131 mph 211 km/h in the 1930s. In the post-war game Jack Kramer was accorded 110 mph 177 km/h and Richard Gonzales 112 mph 180 km/h." 73 m/s
Guinness World Records. GRW, 2001. "Greg Rusedski (GB) achieved a record serve of 149 M.p.h during the ATP Champions' Cup at Indian Wells, California, USA, on March 14 1998. The fastest server in the women's game is Venus Williams (USA), who recorded a serve of 127.4 mph during the European Indoor Championships at Zurich, Switzerland, on Oct. 16, 1998." 67 m/s
Student Resource Center - Venus Williams slams world's fastest tennis serve. Johnson Publishing Company Inc, 1998. "During her match against Barbara Schett in the second round of Wimbledon, Williams unleased a delivery clocked at 125 mph, passing the old record of 123 mph set by Brenda Schultz-McCarthy. 'That was a real surprise,' Williams said after her accomplishment. 'I wasn't going for any big ones today.' The 18-year-old's record breaking serve also betters her own best of 122 mph." 56 m/s
McWhirter, Norris. Guinness World Records. Guinness Superlatives Ltd, 1982:508. "The fastest service ever measured was one of 163.6 mph by William Tatem Tilden (1893-1953) (US) in 1931." 73 m/s
Newcomb, John. The Book of Tennis Lists. Norman Giller, 1985: 21 "'Big Bill' Tilden delivered the fastest serve ever officially measured. It was timed at 163.6 mph in 1931. Britain's Mike Sangster had a serve timed at 154 mph in 1963. Ellsworth Vines was clocked at 128 mph and his 1930s contemporary Lester Rollo Stoeten sent down a serve timed at 131 mph. The fastest serve scientifically timed was the 137 mph cannonball from American Scott Carnahan at Los Angeles in 1976. Then in 1981 a West German lawn tennis coach and statistician, Horst Goepper, claimed a serving speed of 199.53 mph during a test in Weinheim." 73 m/s

You turn on the television, flip through the channels, and there's a tennis match going on. Venus Williams serves to her opponent <Ugh> Her opponent returns the ball <Ugh>. Now have you ever wondered what is up with tennis players and the noises they make when hitting the ball back and forth. Well, they have every right to make these noises.

Venus Williams served the world's fastest tennis ball among women which was clocked at 56.95 m/s (127.4 mph). That's twice the speed limit on a regular highway in New York City. Tilden holds the title of World's fastest tennis ball served among men with a speed of 73.14 m/s (163.6 mph).

So where does the fastest tennis serve rank among other sports? It is ranked third, trailing behind badminton with a fastest recorded smash of 89 m/s (199 mph) and jai-alai, where a pelota was thrown at 84 m/s (188 mph) in 1979. Hockey and squash are tied for forth place with speeds up to 54 m/s (120 mph).

Tina Cheung -- 2001

Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Venus Williams hits fastest serve by a woman in a main-draw match. Yahoo! Sports. 30 May 2007. "Venus Williams hit the fastest recorded serve in a women's tour main-draw match, reaching 128 mph at the French Open on Wednesday. Brenda Schultz-McCarthy hit a serve at 130 mph during qualifying for the Cincinnati tournament last year, and the WTA said Wednesday it considers that to be the fastest serve in women's tennis history.... Williams noticed the readout of 206 kph -- which translates to 128 mph -- on the court's radar meter and let out a laugh, cracking her concentration." 58.1 m/s
(women's qualifying)

57.2 m/s
(women's main draw)

Editor's Supplement -- 2007

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