‘On His Way to Glory’: How Serena Williams Taught Tennis to Shaquille O’Neal

Published 12/30/2021, 7:30 AM EST
PARIS, FRANCE May 29. Serena Williams of the United States shares a joke with coach Patrick Mouratoglou while training on Court Philippe-Chatrier in preparation for the 2021 French Open Tennis Tournament at Roland Garros on May 29th 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Tennis megastar Serena Williams telling someone they have a bright future in tennis is one of the greatest compliments possible. Thus, when basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal played with her, he couldn’t stop smiling when she praised him.


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In a 12-year-old video from 2009, we see the two decorated champions play tennis. In fact, it is Serena who is coaching the 7-foot-center on how to hit the balls in a hilarious video.

Serena Williams forced Shaquille O’Neal to move on the court


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The video begins with Serena hitting a ball softly for Shaq to hit back. However, right from the first move, hilarity ensues. The four-time NBA champion shanks the ball out of the court as the two look at the ball fly away.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 27: Serena Williams of the United States attends a practice session ahead of The Championships – Wimbledon 2021 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 27, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by AELTC/Pool/Getty Images)

Then, they begin an extremely soft rally, merely touching the ball as it gently glides to either side of the net. Throughout the rally, Serena and Shaq make exaggerated hitting noises, grunting and groaning, while clearly not putting in any effort at all.

After Shaq hits the ball straight into the net, coach Serena Williams decides to switch gears. “Imma try to move you kinda like what I think Misty and Kerri are gonna do,” she says.

This tennis preparation by Shaq was part of his training, which led up to his exhibition match against Kerri Walsh and Misty May Treanor at beach volleyball. In fact, the match itself was part of Shaquille O’Neal‘s TV Series titled ‘Shaq VS‘.

Furthermore, as Shaq runs side to side on the court, Serena tells the ‘Big Diesel’ to yell louder as he hits each ball. Of course, she instructs him to do so simply to add to the preposterousness of the entire system.


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Shaq couldn’t handle Serena’s drop shot

Seeing Shaq run side to side on the baseline, Serena decided to test his speed in getting to the net. Thus, when she hit the drop shot on Shaq, he simply couldn’t reach the ball in time.

2019 US Open Tennis Tournament- Day Eleven. Serena Williams of the United States celebrates her victory against Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine hitting balls to the spectators after the Women’s Singles Semi-Finals match on Arthur Ashe Stadium during the 2019 US Open Tennis Tournament at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 5th, 2019 in Flushing, Queens, New York City. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Finally, giving him the easiest possible shot to hit, Serena Williams called him to the net and tossed the ball to his side. “Pretend you’re on the beach, match point,” she instructs.


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Then, with the loudest yell he could’ve mustered, Shaquille O’Neal hits the ball with all his strength. Watching the ball bounce off the court at high speed, Serena then looked into the camera and jokingly said, “He is on his way to glory.”


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Sadly, Shaquille O’Neal went on to lose the match against the champion duo, but of course, we all saw that coming a mile away.

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Samarveer Singh

260 articles

Samarveer Singh is a tennis writer at EssentiallySports. Holding a degree in English Literature and a diploma in Fitness Sciences and Training, Samarveer is obsessed with tennis and basketball. He is also an automotive writer at HotCars.