By Ros Satar, at Wimbledon
- Garbiñe Muguruza  def. Venus Williams  7-5 6-0
- Describes how she was not a fan of grass – until the 2015 final
- Contrast between the tears of losing her Roland Garros defence to being in the same position,
LONDON, UK – Hearts wanted Venus Williams to win, but it was Garbiñe Muguruza who lifted the Venus Rosewater Dish on her second attempt after learning to love grass.
There no nerves evident in the opening exchanges, with Venus Williams starting the proceedings with an ace to get the crowd under the Centre Court roof buzzing. Garbiñe Muguruza followed with a comfortable service game despite dropping her first point.
While Muguruza’s forehand looked a little fragile, there was nothing wrong with her backhand in the early encounters, and indeed it was Williams who looked as though she was going to capitalise first as she brought up the first break point of the match.
Muguruza held firm, bringing up her first chance in the longest game of the match so far as Williams held on tight to hold her serve. It was the merest of wobbles for the five-time Wimbledon champion who put paid to her previous dithering with a frighteningly solid hold to love.
In a set that had been pretty much dominated by Williams, the Muguruza serve looked again the more fragile as she faced set points. Williams peppered the forehand that had started out so shakily, but suddenly it found a level of pep to pull the game to deuce.
The fight that had seemed to be missing for much of Muguruza’s season arrived with a flourish at just the right time, as she clawed back the deficit to stay in the fight. It gave her the momentum to pummel Williams as this time she was rewarded with the break, grabbing the first set with both hands to put herself just a set away from the Wimbledon title.
The second set was a complete masterclass from the Spaniard, who was putting her previous doubles prowess to good use. Where Muguruza was coming forwards and attacking, Williams was staying back and not taking the risk.
Experience ought to have told her to mix things up, but she seemed to be out of ideas, even though she was fighting for every point. That being said, serving it out at 5-0 was proving to be a challenge with the third and final match point being decided on a challenge.
It was a curiously anti-climactic way for the final to end, as Muguruza sank to knees in tears, becoming the second Spanish woman since her stand-in coach Conchita Martinez to win the title.
‘Stop complaining’ – How she learned to get on with the grass
The poise and grace that Venus Williams possesses after a second set that yielded no joy says much about the champion she is. On court, interviewed by BBC Sport, she said:
“I’m sure this means so much to you and your family. Well done today. Beautiful.”
She continued to acknowledge how Muguruza had lifted her level any time an question tried to hint that she was fatigued by the end of that match. The newly minted champion had nothing but praise for the player she grew up watching.
“When I knew I was playing Venus in the final, I was actually looking forward for it. You know, people were surprised when I said in French Open, that I had Serena in the final. No, I’m like, But that’s the final. A Wimbledon final with Serena and Venus… You know, she won five times, so she knows how to play.
“For me was a challenge to have her, growing up watching her play. Everybody start laughing. But, in fact, is something incredible. I don’t know, I was so excited to go out there and win, especially over somebody like a role model.”
For Muguruza it was a stark contrast to just 41 days ago when she broke down in her post-match press conference at Roland Garros, after her title defence ended in the fourth round.
Muguruza 41 days ago. Impossible to stress how much the FO title burdened her, impossible to stress how quickly tennis players must move on. pic.twitter.com/Es5PR7le1P
— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) July 15, 2017
At the time she said she was relieved that the burden of fielding the questions about her upcoming title defence was now done and dusted, and yet here she sits and she will have to embark on it once again.
She said: “It’s not easy. It’s very good when you win it, and it’s hard after when you come back and you know you have to defend it. But that’s a good problem to have.
“It was tough obviously, because you know you have a lot of matches to go. You wanted the trophy back. But I’m happy to be in this situation. You know, I’m happy that once again I see myself winning a Grand Slam, something that is so hard to do. It means a lot. It means a lot of confidence.”
She had charmed everyone on her way to the final in 2015, and after being in tears that day losing out to Serena Williams, she joked that when Williams congratulated her in her on court speech and told her she would be winning the title herself someday, she dismissed it – ‘yeah, yeah’ laughing it off.
Yet two years on, she stands with that same dish in her hands and admitted that making that final two years ago was the turning point for her, where the green stuff is concerned.
“At the beginning, I didn’t like grass. For sure I suffered, you know, to play and to handle it. It took me a while actually to calm down, to say, Hey, it’s grass, you have to adapt to the surface.
“Once I did this Wimbledon final, everything changed for me because I felt like, Stop complaining, your game suits this surface. Since that moment I’m, like, I like grass and I’m going to look in a positive way. It [made] a big difference to see it that way.”
Of course winning against the expectations of many, as she joked with Chairman of the All England Club Philip Brook that she had no dress for the Wimbledon Ball as she admired her name stencilled on the Winners’ Board.
Although the tradition of the Wimbledon Champions having the first dance, it was briefly resurrected by Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams.
(h/t bala reddy)
So, should the opportunity arise to dance once more, who would Muguruza pick?
“Roger (laughter). And I like Cilic, I have to say seriously. But I want to see if he’s
that elegant also dancing.”
Muguruza is scheduled to play next at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, between 31 July to 6 August.
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