Wimbledon Day 12 | Muguruza claims the ladies’ title
Garbine Muguruza sealed her first Wimbledon title and hoped she would be able to dance with Roger Federer on Sunday night.
Muguruza became just the second Spanish winner of the coveted ladies crown by bringing five-times champion and out-of-sorts Venus Williams to earth 7-5 6-0 on Centre Court.
Since I lost the final here. I wanted to change that. I came thinking, I'm prepared, I feel good. During the tournament and the matches, I was feeling better and better. Every match, I was increasing my level. I think today I played well It was amazing to see my name on the honours board on the wall Garbine Muguruza
And, with Federer facing Marin Cilic in his bid for a record eighth crown, she joked about the Swiss showing her his dancefloor moves at the Champions Dinner.
She laughed: “Who of the finalists would I like to dance with? Oh, c’mon! Roger. I like Cilic, I have to say seriously. But I want to see if he’s (Federer’s) that elegant as a dancer (as he is a player).”
Muguruza’s stand-in coach Conchita Martinez, who won 22 years ago, joined in her celebrations with compatriot Manuel Santana, the last male player from the Iberian peninsula bar Rafa Nadal to be crowned king of the All England Club.
The 23-year-old collapsed onto her knees, got back to her feet, fist pumped her guest box and greeted Williams at the net with a kiss.
Then she covered her face in her hands as she threw her head back lost in the moment. Maybe oblivious to Martinez, Santana and the remaining 15,000 cheering her to the rafters of the roof which had covered the court throughout because of incessant spitting rain.
The Venezuelan-born ace wore the broadest smile as she became the first player to beat both Williams sisters in a Grand Slam final, having overcome Venus’ younger sibling Serena in winning last year’s French Open title.
And another reason for her good mood is that it expunged the disappointment she felt when Serena defeated her in The Championships final two years ago.
The smile was even wider as she revealed how Venus had been an inspiration to her growing up, while thanking one and all.
Muguruza, ironically, lost 6-1 6-0 to Czech Barbora Strycova in the opening round at Eastbourne the week before Wimbledon.
But she transformed her form throughout the Famous Fortnight to land the £2m winners’ cheque and just the fourth title of her career. It seems the big tournaments turn her on.
Muguruza said: “Eastbourne was such a short tournament, I didn’t play well there. But I did the week before, so that helped me. I always come very motivated to the Grand Slams.
“Since I lost the final here. I wanted to change that. I came thinking, I’m prepared, I feel good. During the tournament and the matches, I was feeling better and better. Every match, I was increasing my level. I think today I played well
“It was amazing to see my name on the honours board on the wall. I always look at the wall and see all the names and all the history. I lost that final (2015). I’m like, 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.”
There was not a cigarette paper between the combatants for much of the first set.
Suddenly the match turned at 5-4 15-40 with Williams holding two break points. Two set points.
The American suspected the forehand might be Muguruza’s weaker wing and she hammered return after return on to it in an extended rally before dumping a forehand into the net. The wind went out of Williams’ sails from that moment on as the Spaniard took an iron grip on proceedings.
Muguruza held and then broke her opponent before serving out to take the lead. The Venus train which had railroaded British No.1 Jo Konta in the semi-finals, had been derailed.
The second set, the only time Williams had suffered a 6-0 set loss in her Wimbledon history, merely confirmed that her performance was disintegrating before our eyes.
Williams became uncharacteristically sluggish in her movement and sloppy in her shot execution.
Legend John McEnroe courtside insisted his compatriot needed to “get some life back in those legs”. Her body language must have given her opponent a boost.
You wondered if the emotional scars of the fatal car crash she had been in recently came into play. Whether the Sjogren’ Syndrome – an autoimmune disease which causes joint pain, swelling an tiredness – from which she suffers from was a factor.
Perhaps it was age catching up with the 37-year-old Williams, like it catches up with all of us eventually.
Her spirit seemed down. Her body language revealed to her opponent and the rest of those watching that she was ready to be beaten. The fire which had helped her reach the SW19 final had seemingly gone out
But Muguruza was playing fine tennis as she hammered home her advantage.
The Spaniard underlined her knack of saving her best for the best of occasions.
She said: “Nothing went through my mind (after saving the break points at 5-4 to Williams in the first set). I was expecting the best of Venus, because I saw her, and she was playing very good. I knew she was going to make me suffer and fight for it.
“When I had those set points against me, I’m like, Hey, it’s normal. I’m playing Venus here. So I just keep fighting. And I knew that if I was playing like I was playing during the two weeks, I was going to have eventually an opportunity. So I was calm. If I lose the first set, I still have two more. Let’s not make a drama.”
Only winning four titles? How can I be as good as you were against Williams all the time?
She said: “It is very hard to find a recipe to feel good fitness-wise, tennistically, mentally. I think in this tournament I put everything together, which is very hard. Normally, you know, you’re tired, I feel pain here, my confidence is not there. So I felt this tournament I find somehow to put everything together and perform good at every level.”
Williams, it seems, is ready to come back and give Wimbledon another go.
I asked her: “Presumably you are coming back next year, right?”
She replied: “Presumably, yes.”
Williams was understandably subdued and deflated, but did not look to blame her illness.
She said: “Garbine played really well. Played top tennis so you have to give her credit for just playing a better match. I’ve had a great two weeks. I’m looking forward to the rest of the summer. Definitely in good form for the US Open. I’ve been in the position this year to contend for big titles. That’s the kind of position I want to put myself in. It’s just about getting over the line. I believe I can do that.”