A rapid serve may not always equal Grand Slam success, but it’s a potent weapon for those looking to take achieve glory. It’s more than just a party trick for the best players – consistently scoring aces puts opponents under pressure, providing a real advantage. And, as tennis becomes more and more competitive, we’re seeing more and more players thumping aces on their way to victory.

Throughout history, we’ve seen some real greats serve with power, but who has the fastest serve in tennis? We find out…

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What are the four types of serves in tennis?

Before we push ahead any further, it’s important to know the four types of serves available to players in tennis as they look to lay down a service that will cause their opponents problems.

  • Flat serve: The flat serve is often the fastest serve of them all as it is hard and powerful, making it ideal for a first serve in a tennis game. It’s the one to use to boost your average tennis serve speed.
  • Slice serve: Slower than a flat serve, the slice serve creates sidespin and draws the opposing player out wide, leaving the rest of the court open, while it can cause the ball to bounce farther away.
  • Kick serve: Kick serves are a heavy topspin serve and while they have less power, they do offer more control. The server often uses this to hit towards a player’s weakness.
  • Underhand serve: The least commonly used of all four serves, the underhand serve is mostly taught to children or used by tennis players who have injured themselves. The contact point of the serve and follow-through travel below the shoulder.

Fastest servers in men’s tennis

The fastest serve ever recorded in men’s tennis was delivered by Australian Sam Groth at the Busan Open Challenger Tennis event in 2012. But despite dispatching the ball at 263 km/h (163.4 mph), he still lost the match 4–6, 3–6 to Uladzimir Ignatik.

The only other player to break the 160mph barrier was Frenchman Albano Olivetti, who delivered the ball at 257.5 km/h (160 mph) to rival Dušan Lajović in the first round of the Internazionali Trofeo Lame Perrel–Faip, also in 2012. Despite having such a powerful weapon in his armoury, Olivetti has never risen higher than No. 161 in the world.

Notorious big hitter Jon Isner holds the record for the fastest ever serve in a Davis Cup match. The American recorded a speed of 253 km/h (157.2 mph) in his victory over Bernard Tomic – the third fastest men’s serve. This is also the fastest serve to be formally recognised by the Association of Tennis Professionals.

Rounding off the top five, meanwhile, are Ivo Karlović at the 2011 Davis Cup and Jerzy Janowicz at the 2012 Pekao Szczecin Open, who both struck serves of 251 km/h (156 mph).

Fastest servers in women’s tennis

In the women’s game, the fastest ever serve was delivered by Spanish player Georgina Garcia Pérez, who drove the ball to 220.0 km/h (136.7 mph) in the 2018 Hungarian Open. That serve eclipsed the previous best of 210.8 km/h (131 mph), which had been held by German player Sabine Lisicki since the 2014 Bank of the West Classic.

Sitting in second between those two is Aryna Sabalenka, who smashed the ball 214 km/h (133.0 mph) to her opponent at the 2018 WTA Elite Trophy.

The fastest serve ever in a Women’s Grand Slam match was delivered in the 2007 US Open by Venus Williams. The American fired a 207.6 km/h (129 mph) towards Hungarian Kira Nagy in their first-round match. Her best ever serve was just 0.7 mph faster than her sister Serena’s most rapid effort, which was struck in the 2013 Australian Open.

Not far behind Serena is Julia Görges, who has the fastest women’s serve at the French Open, recording a blast of 203 km/h (126.1 mph) at the 2012 edition.