How To Get Tennis Lessons From Serena Williams

Online teaching platform MasterClass is signing up major stars to teach in-depth web lessons—for a price.

How To Get Tennis Lessons From Serena Williams
[Illustration: Aaron Lloyd Barr]

Want Serena Williams to come over and troubleshoot your backhand? Sorry, that’s probably not going to happen. But a new online education platform lets you come close. Called MasterClass, the San Francisco–based startup launched in May 2015 with online courses from the tennis superstar, Oscar-winning actor Dustin Hoffman, and mega- selling novelist James Patterson (tutorials from Usher and photographer Annie Leibovitz are also in the works). Unlimited access to each multi-installment class costs $90, and while the instruction tends toward the remedial, the teachers’ wisdom and charisma make the videos more entertaining than typical instructional clips. Here’s a quick look at MasterClass’s core curriculum.


James Patterson

Duration: 3.5 hours (22 lessons)
What you’ll learn: How to launch a career in writing, from devising plots and characters to promoting the finished product
Best quote: “Try and write every chapter as if it’s the first chapter in the book—as if it’s that important. Don’t write a single chapter that doesn’t propel the story forward.”

Serena WilliamsPhoto: Star Max, AP Images

Serena Williams

Duration: 2 hours (10 lessons)
What you’ll learn: Tennis funda­mentals, as well as more advanced concepts like “controlling the court”
Best quote: “When I’m behind in a game I relax, because I realize usually it’s not going to get worse than this. …Someone with nothing to lose can be a very dangerous opponent and a very dangerous person.”

Dustin Hoffman

Duration: Over 4.5 hours (24 lessons)
What you’ll learn: A little about how actors create memorable characters, a lot about Hoffman’s 55-year career
Best quote: “I don’t want to see [actors say], ‘This isn’t me, it’s the character.’ Come on, we’re all everything. We’re all mean bastards. We’re all funny. We have all those aspects to us.”


About the author

Nikita Richardson is an assistant editor at Fast Company magazine.