WIMBLEDON, England — After struggling with the burden of winning her first Grand Slam singles title, Garbiñe Muguruza now must cope with the reality of winning a second.
She did it in brilliant fashion on Saturday, triumphing at Wimbledon by defeating the five-time champion Venus Williams, 7-5, 6-0.
At 23, Muguruza is 14 years younger than Williams, the American star who was playing in her first Wimbledon singles final since 2009.
But Muguruza is Williams’s stylistic acolyte: a big-serving, flat-hitting power player who can also play defense but is happiest on a tennis court when she is most aggressive.
“I grew up watching her play, so it’s incredible to play her in the final,” Muguruza said of Williams as she accepted the Venus Rosewater Dish, which is awarded to the women’s champion.
Muguruza is now the first Spanish woman to win the singles title since Conchita Martínez in 1994, and what made it a full-circle moment was that Martínez served here as her coach.
“She’s got a game to win it more times, so hopefully she’ll do it,” Martínez said.
Muguruza earned her first Wimbledon title by bouncing back from an emotional fourth-round defeat at last month’s French Open, where she failed to defend her title and ended up in tears at a news conference after losing to Kristina Mladenovic of France.
She earned it by navigating her way through a difficult draw here in grand style, defeating Angelique Kerber, the world No. 1, in a three-set fourth-round match that was the best of the women’s tournament.
She then earned it on Saturday by holding her own early against the forceful Williams and fighting off two set points in the first set: an intense, corner-to-corner duel in which the grunts from the players and the applause from the spectators reverberated off the closed Centre Court roof.
It was top-drawer entertainment, which made it all the more of a contrast with the second set, which quickly became a procession toward the trophy.
After fending off those two set points at 4-5 — the first by winning a 20-stroke baseline rally — Muguruza took complete control, reeling off nine straight games to close out .the victory as Williams’s forehand and defense continued to crack.
The first set required 51 minutes, the second just 26, and Muguruza finished it off by using technology that was not available when Williams won her first Wimbledon singles title in 2000.
On her third match point at 5-0, Muguruza challenged a call on a shot from Williams that landed near the baseline. When the electronic replay confirmed that the ball had been out, Muguruza dropped her racket, sank to her knees, covered her face with both hands and began to cry before regaining her feet and walking forward to share an embrace with Williams, who was waiting at the net.
There would be many more embraces to come after Muguruza walked off Centre Court as the new champion. Among the Spaniards who congratulated her were Juan Carlos, the former king of Spain; the former Wimbledon men’s champion Manolo Santana; and Martínez.
Like Muguruza, Martínez had to beat a 37-year-old enduring icon to win her Wimbledon title. She defeated Martina Navratilova in the 1994 final, and the parallels were hardly lost on Martínez, a superstitious player throughout her long career.
“It wasn’t about me,” Martínez said. “It was more about what she had to do to beat Venus and not focus on her age. But in my mind, there were too many coincidences.”
She helped coach Muguruza here in the absence of Muguruza’s regular coach, Sam Sumyk, who missed Wimbledon because of the pregnancy of his wife, Meilen Tu.
“Well, I think I’m here because I’ve done a hard work before,” Muguruza said on the eve of the final of Martínez’s influence. “The magic doesn’t happen just because somebody comes in, and all of a sudden you are incredible. I think she’s helping me how to deal with the tournament, because obviously it’s a Grand Slam, and it’s difficult to handle because it’s two weeks. She has experience.”
Sumyk and Martínez consulted regularly during the tournament, but Martínez was the one sitting in the players’ box on Centre Court on Saturday, shouting encouragement as Muguruza played in her third Grand Slam singles final.
She lost to Venus Williams’s younger sister Serena in the 2015 Wimbledon final, then upset Serena Williams in last year’s French Open final, generating expectations that she would continue to climb the rankings and be a consistent contender for the game’s major trophies.
Instead, she went into an extended slump, failing to reach another final at any tournament until her run at Wimbledon this year.
She is now a two-time Grand Slam singles champion and will be back at No. 5 in the WTA rankings on Monday.
Venus Williams will be back in the top 10 at No. 9 and is in the midst of the strongest season of her late-career phase.
She lost the Australian Open final in January to Serena Williams, who was pregnant with her first child and has not played competitively since then. But she and Venus Williams have been in regular contact during Wimbledon, and Serena Williams, a seven-time singles champion here, offered encouragement and tactical advice before the match against Muguruza.
After defeating six younger women, however, Venus Williams did not have the staying power or the solutions to get past the seventh.
Williams, as she so often is, was gracious in defeat. “I know how hard you work, and I’m sure this means so much to you and your family,” she said to Muguruza during the trophy ceremony. “So well done today. Beautiful.”
Victory would have meant a great deal to Williams, as well. This was her 20th Wimbledon. She last won a singles title here in 2008, and three years later she announced that she had Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder.
The condition sapped her energy, forced her to alter her diet and curtail her training. But it did not curtail her desire to continue competing at the highest level even when she failed to advance past the fourth round in singles at any major tournament in 2011, 2012, 2013 or 2014.
She endured deep frustrations and retirement questions but continued to maintain that she still had the talent and temperament to contend for the biggest titles.
This season, she is the only woman to have played in two Grand Slam singles finals, but she is still chasing another Grand Slam title.
Asked on court if she had a message for her absent sister, Venus Williams responded: “Oh I miss you. I tried my best to do the same things you do, but I think that there will be other opportunities. I do.”
That is certainly possible, but it is far from a sure thing with younger talent rising.
Muguruza has now won two major singles titles in two years — beating a Williams in straight sets in each final.
Published at Sat, 15 Jul 2017 20:32:48 +0000