While many of the greatest WTA backhands the world has ever seen are now retired from the sport, there are still many backhand specialists on tour that are sure to go down in history among the best.
The backhand is one of the most crucial shots in tennis as it makes up fifty percent of all groundstroke rallies. The one-handed backhand may have fallen from grace in the WTA, but there is a myriad of powerful backhand specialists on tour using the two-hander. Whether it’s fast, topspin-heavy, or extremely accurate, the best WTA backhands are undeniably those that can score the most points in a match.
5. Garbine Muguruza’s backhand
Two-time Grand Slam champion and former world number one Garbine Muguruza owes much of her success to her relentless backhand, which she hits with immense power and generates top speeds. The Spaniard hits a flat two-hander that enables plenty of depth to her shots, a stroke she heavily relies on to bring the pressure to her opponents and take control of the point. Muguruza’s forehand, which is not too consistent, is also able to produce winners, often as a result of a favorable circumstance that her backhand has created.
A critical component of embracing backhand success is learning to use it in harmony with your own game plan. For Garbine Muguruza, her backhand works well with her baseline-dominant game and selective net approaches, allowing her to transition towards hitting more low-risk winners. Despite a rather inconsistent career in terms of form, the world No.9 has certainly seen plenty of success, and her backhand stroke continues to be a threat on the Hologic WTA Tour today.
4. Paula Badosa’s backhand
Another Spaniard to add to this list is Paula Badosa, currently ranked at world number 4 and possessing one of the strongest backhands on tour. Like her compatriot Muguruza, Badosa also hits a flat shot that gains plenty of depth and pressures her opponent at the baseline. When it comes to accuracy, however, the 24-year-old’s backhand shot seems to always find the lines. Her ability to hit a backhand winner in the most unlikely of scenarios is what gives her an edge over her opponents.
To complement her fast and precise shot-making on the backhand side, Badosa also incorporates an effective slice game that lets her reset the pace of the point. The Spaniard also does well to turn her backhand slice into an attacking weapon, generating huge depth that skid to her opponents’ feet and even hitting clean winners off of it. On top of that, she is able to produce dropshot winners on her backhand side when the situation calls for it, propelling her status to one of the strongest and most versatile WTA backhands on tour today.
3. Danielle Collins’ backhand
Needing no introduction, Danielle Collins is among the elite of WTA backhands with perhaps the fiercest stroke in the competition. Her two-handed swing has one of the fastest motions on tour as she transitions from the backswing to the follow-through finish in the blink of an eye. The world number 8 may never have won a major, but she’s more than made herself known in the tennis world by cracking into the WTA Top 10 this year and establishing herself as USA’s number one.
Known for her unmatched speed on the backhand stroke, Collins is notorious for her aggressive baseline play and her daring shot-making. The 2022 Australian Open finalist received a telling testimonial from Iga Swiatek who had fallen to her 6-4 6-1 at Melbourne Park. The now world number one Swiatek stated they were the “fastest balls I have ever played in a match” when referring to her semifinal loss against Collins.
2. Iga Swiatek’s backhand
Iga Swiatek has come a long way since her battle with Danielle Collins, having won 37 matches in a row, securing six titles in a row, including the French Open title, and dominating the rankings as the world number one. Unlike the previous members of this list, Swiatek has a strong topspin element to her game, a testament to her playstyle which resembles that of her idol Rafael Nadal. The Pole is able to hit rotations per minute of over 9000 on her groundstrokes, a characteristic of her game that brings her plenty of success during the clay season.
Without a doubt, Iga Swiatek produces the highest levels of topspin in women’s tennis, but what’s truly incredible is her ability to hit at record speeds on top of that. Her backhand speed is truly off the charts, having reached a record 122km per hour at the 2020 French Open, the fastest of all women’s backhands on tour. This number was equal to Dominic Thiem’s backhand speed at the time, which was the fastest backhand of all ATP players during the tournament.
1. Victoria Azarenka’s backhand
With over a decade of professional tennis under her belt, Victoria Azarenka’s backhand has truly stood the test of time as one of the greats. Even today, the world number 20 continues to play at the highest level, recording her 500th tour-level match win this year at the Qatar Open. The two-time Australian Open champion and three-time US Open finalist has secured a total of 21 singles titles during her astonishing career, and her backhand is a major contributor to this success.
As an aggressive baseliner, Victoria Azarenka has always been a hard hitter that hits with a flat stroke, attacking the ball on the rise and taking time away from her opponents. Her two-handed backhand has brought her a ton of success in her career, backing up her forehand which is a little more vulnerable. In fact, her prowess on the backhand down-the-line shot as well as her high percentage return game have sparked observed similarities between Victoria Azarenka and Novak Djokovic.
Special mention… Serena Williams’ backhand
Naturally, it couldn’t be a complete list without mentioning the legendary Serena Williams who still remains on tour today. The 40-year-old undoubtedly has one of the deadliest backhands the world has ever seen, and her dominance at the baseline during her prime years were simply unmatched. As the 23-time Grand Slam champion nears retirement, she will soon be immortalized as one of the most powerful shot-makers who ever played the sport.
Serena Williams has had an incredibly long rivalry with the top player on this list Victoria Azarenka, having dominated the Belarusian in their head-to-head over the years with 18 wins to 5 losses. Both players have been regarded as possessing exceptional backhands that are arguably the best in history. However, being the younger of the two, Azarenka is able to maintain that level up till today, giving her the top spot of best WTA backhands among today’s active players as of 2022.