Can You Serve Underhand In Tennis?

If you’re wondering whether you can serve underhand in tennis, the answer is yes! This type of serve is actually quite common in recreational games. Keep reading to learn more about underhand serves in tennis, including how to execute one.


Serve underhand in tennis is legal, as long as the player uses an underhanded motion and does not propel the ball with an overhand motion. The player must hold the racket in one hand and hit the ball before it bounces twice.

The History of Underhand Serving in Tennis

The underhand serve has been a part of tennis since the very beginning. It was the predominant method of serving in the 19th century and early 20th century. The first Wimbledon tournament was held in 1877, and the top-seeded player that year was William Renshaw, who used an underhand serve exclusively. In fact, all seven Wimbledon champions between 1877 and 1902 used an underhand serve. It wasn’t until 1903 that a player using an overhand serve won Wimbledon.

The prevailing theory at the time was that the overhand motion put too much stress on the elbow and shoulders, so players stuck with the tried-and-true underhand serve. Even though the overhand serve gradually became more popular, there were still a few holdouts who preferred the underhand method into the 1920s and 1930s. One of them was French star Suzanne Lenglen, who won six Wimbledon singles titles between 1919 and 1925 using an exacting underhand serve.

Players began to experiment with different grips and motions in the 1940s and 1950s, leading to more power and spin on their serves. The Continental grip, which is still used by many players today, became popular during this time. The underhand serve all but disappeared from competitive tennis by the 1960s as players began serving exclusively overhand.

There are a few reasons why the underhand serve fell out of favor in competitive tennis. First, it simply didn’t produce as much power as the overhand motion. Second, it was harder to control because there wasn’t as much spin on the ball. Third, it was less effective on faster surfaces like grass courts, which were becoming more prevalent at major tournaments like Wimbledon. Finally, it was less visually appealing than the showy overhand serves being hit by players like Rod Laver and Jimmy Connors.

The Rules of Underhand Serving in Tennis

Underhand serving is legal in tennis as long as the server does not break any of the other rules during the motion. For instance, the server cannot toss the ball too high or move before hitting the ball. If any of these infractions occur, it will be counted as a fault.

The main purpose of underhand serving is to catching your opponent off guard. It can also be used as a tool to help a player who is struggling with their serve. In general, underhand serves are not used during competitive match play because they are not seen as effective.

The Pros and Cons of Underhand Serving in Tennis

Some people argue that underhand serving is an unfair advantage, while others believe that it levels the playing field. There are pros and cons to both sides of the argument.

Underhand serving can be an effective way to catch your opponent off guard. If you have a good underhand serve, it can be difficult for your opponent to return the ball. This can give you an advantage in a match.

However, some people believe that underhand serves are not as challenging as overhand serves. This can make the game less competitive and less enjoyable for both players. In addition, some argue that underhanded serves are more likely to result in double faults.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to serve underhand in tennis is up to the player. There are benefits and drawbacks to both approaches. Ultimately, it is up to the player to decide what works best for them.

How to Execute an Underhand Serve in Tennis

How to Execute an Underhand Serve in Tennis

Assuming you are right-handed, start by standing on the right side of the center line with your feet together and your weight on your right foot. Open your racket face and hold it with an eastern backhand grip. Bend your knees and raise your racket arm up and back. For more topspin, brush up slightly on the ball as you make contact. For more underspin (slice), brush down on the ball. As you make contact, snap your wrist to send the ball over the net.


Yes, you can serve underhand in tennis. In fact, many professional tennis players use an underhand serve as a weapon, especially when they are facing a very strong opponent. An underhand serve can be very effective, because it is difficult for the opponent to generate power on the return.

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