Male and female players may have different game characteristics and performance. The first two shots of a rally in badminton have tactical importance. The aim of this study is to identify players' actions and behaviors and to assess differences in serve and return between the genders on the international level. We observed 15 male and 15 female matches from top international badminton tournaments. A notational analysis was used while observing the serve type, return type and the point winner. Male players hit the backhand short serve in 91 % of points and female players started the point mostly with the forehand long serve (58 %). Both genders won 50 % of the serving points. The distribution of return type is quite equal among the drop, lob, clear, smash and net shots in female matches. While returning a short serve, the lob was 4-5 % less efficient than a net shot in both genders. Women can try to use backhand short serve more often as we found the highest efficiency of all the serve types.