WIMBLEDON, England — Undoubtedly, Garbine Muguruza was mostly in the market for her own slice of tennis history in the Wimbledon final on Saturday. But when the 23-year-old Spaniard picked up her second career Grand Slam title, courtesy of a scorching 7-5, 6-0 defeat of Venus Williams, she actually altered the Williams sisters’ historical perspective as well.
The 14th-seeded Muguruza, as it turns out, is the only player to earn a Grand Slam title at the expense of both siblings. She won her first major at the 2016 French Open, upending defending champion Serena 7-5, 6-4 for the title. And now she has scored the Wimbledon trophy over Venus, confidently winning the final nine games of the 77-minute match. “When I knew I was playing Venus in the final, I was actually looking forward for it,” Muguruza said. “People were surprised when I said [at] the French Open, that I had Serena in the final. “It’s great to go out there and play somebody that you admire.”
What made this victory special for Muguruza is it dims the memory of her first trip to a Grand Slam final here at Wimbledon two years ago. That time around she was on the losing end of the decision to Serena Williams, in straight sets. Since that match, every time she’s gone by the honor board that lists all the Wimbledon champions in the Members Area of the All England Club lobby, she’s felt a pang of regret.
As soon as she came off the court a Wimbledon champion on Saturday, the All England Club chairman Philip Brook guided her over to that very wall where her name had already been permanently added to the roster. Seeing herself among the illustrious former Wimbledon champions was clearly overwhelming.
“It was amazing,” she said. “I always look at the wall and see, you know, all the names and all the history. I lost that final. I was close. I didn’t want to lose this time because I know the difference. I really know the difference of making a final, which is incredible, but … so happy that it’s there now.” When Muguruza initially was introduced to playing on grass, she felt as if she showed up in the wrong place. Spanish players grow up sliding around clay courts, and grass is most definitely a foreign abstraction.
“At the beginning I didn’t like grass,” she admitted. “For sure, I suffered to play and handle it. It took me a while actually to calm down, to say, ‘Hey, it’s grass, you have to adapt to the surface. "I did this [first] Wimbledon final, everything changed for me because I felt like, ‘Stop complaining, your game suits this surface.” Muguruza, who has yet to win multiple titles in a year, won her lone trophy of 2016 at the French Open. The Wimbledon crown is the Spaniard’s first trophy this season, and only her fourth career title dating back to 2014.
Playing under the watchful eye of Juan Carlos, Spain's former monarch, sitting in the Royal Box, Muguruza took the 10th-seeded Williams’ game apart piece by piece. While Muguruza took advantage of four of seven break points, Williams failed to execute on all three break point opportunities presented.
Williams held two set points on Muguruza’s serve in the 10th game of the first set, but couldn’t finish off the set. In particular, Williams had the momentum in a long rally on that first set point, but lost it with a netted forehand. Muguruza broke serve on a second break point in the 11th game of the first set when Williams sailed a forehand long, and from that point on she was in complete charge of the match. A deflated Williams showed little energy in the second set, and clearly couldn’t handle Muguruza expertly moving her around the court.
Williams was looking for her sixth Wimbledon title — and eighth Grand Slam trophy — in the final. Despite the loss, Williams was all smiles during the award presentation. There was an intriguing twist of fate regarding this final because Mugurza had 1994 Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez of Spain as a substitute coach this fortnight. Muguruza’s regular coach, Sam Sumyk, is home awaiting the birth of his first child with wife, and former American player, Meilen Tu.
The year that Martinez won the title she played Martina Navratilova, who was 37 years, 258 days old, in the championship match. At 37 years, 29 days old, Williams was the oldest woman since Navratilova to contest a Wimbledon final. “We were very excited that — the coincidence of her winning Navratilova, me winning Venus, there was a lot of things there, was, like, awesome,” Muguruza said.
It was jokingly suggested to the new champion her victory ruined the feel good story of a 37-year-old player, competing in her 20th Wimbledon, winning her first Grand Slam trophy since taking the 2008 Wimbledon title. Muguruza smiled at the suggestion, then heartily disagreed: “But we want new names and new faces, so c’mon.”
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