Five-time Australian Open singles champion Serena Williams partnered older sister Venus to capture the sisters’ fourth doubles title Down Under last January. A foot injury prevented Serena from defending those titles this year, but if you watched Venus play, you gained a glimpse of Serena’s competitive future.
The doubles partners are teammates in the frame game as well. Wilson aims for another break-out racquet with its new Blade Team BLX, the Williams sisters’ new stick. Serena has announced that she hopes to return to tournament tennis in the spring; her planned comeback could create some buzz around the new frame, which is 104 square inches and features an 18 x 19 string pattern.
“I think the Blade Team BLX has good specs; we did well with the K-Factor version and I like the cosmetics of this frame,” says Woody Schneider, who owns Grand Central Racquet in New York City and was named 2010 Pro Retailer of the Year by Racquet Sport Industry. “There’s no other control racquets on that level in that head size except the Radical Oversize, and that is a 107 (square-inch head), so this is a unique frame.”
The black, gold and white Wilson frame weighs in at 10.2 oz. (unstrung), offering maneuverability and promoting both power and precision in combining a mid-plus head size with a flat beam.
“It’s hard to predict what the Williams sisters’ impact will be because their participation in tour events is so sporadic now, but the Blade Team BLX spec is interesting because it’s a 104-sized head with a thinner beam,” says Midwest Sports’ product manager Dave Limke. “It’s an interesting spec in that there’s not a lot on the market if you’re a better player and you like that upper-end, mid-plus head that has control. We’ve had decent demo interest in the frame and we just got it a few days ago, which is a good sign. Wilson has kind of tapped into an interesting spec with this racquet so it will be interesting to see how people respond to it.”
Growing head sizes in recent years have changed the shape of the mid-size market.
“You used to consider an 88 or 90 as a mid size and 95 or a 98 as mid-pluses, but now you see the upper end mid-plus range in that 102 to 105 range,” says Sol Schwartz, Holabird Sports’ retail manager. “So I definitely think there is appeal, particularly since 100 square inch heads have become the standard mid-size range in recent years. Serena usually attracts more equipment attention particularly when she’s running through a tournament draw so it should be good exposure for the frame when she’s out on court playing with it.”
MSRP for the Blade Team BLX is $210.
“I know Wilson will always provide me with the best racquet with the latest technology,” Serena Williams said recently after trying her new BLX racquet. “This upgrade will help enhance the feel of my game going into 2011.”