Another tennis legend, Monica Seles, was famous for her powerful two-handed strokes and pummeled her way to nine Grand Slam titles. Fabrice Santoro captivated fans with magician-like shot variety and skill using a two-handed forehand. And fellow two-hander Marion Bartoli took her untraditional style all the way to the Wimbledon title in 2013.
So there are plenty of success stories when it comes to the two-handed forehand—you just don’t see it used very often. It’s frowned upon as a liability in an age where a player needs every possible advantage to succeed against increasingly powerful athletes. Two hands on both sides limits your reach, and makes it tougher to hit a very heavy ball. There's also peer pressure, with 99 percent of players doing something one way.
As a result, the pro game has begun to look like a tennis factory, churning out players with identical strokes and game plans. Gene Mayer, who was ranked No. 4 in the world in 1980 and used a two-handed forehand and backhand, told The New York Times, “I think there’s much more sameness, not just in technique but even in terms of playing style.”
It’s not a good sign that unique styles are disappearing—where’s the fun in that?
I had a two-handed forehand until I was 15. The last match I played before changing to a one-hander was a 6-0, 6-1 loss to a Columbian player that also used a two-handed forehand. I wanted more reach and a bigger weapon; the two-hander felt stifling as I grew older. My dad taught me the stroke as a four-year-old, and I kept it throughout the years, partially in honor of my devotion for Seles. My forehand never developed into a huge weapon, but I had my best year on the pro circuit less than a year after the switch, and enjoyed playing so much more. In the end, I became another one-handed disciple.