The Wimbledon final once held bad memories for Garbine Muguruza but she became the darling of Centre Court on Sunday as she beat Venus Williams to claim the women’s singles title.
Two years ago Muguruza was a surprise finalist at the All England Club on just her third appearance in the main draw in SW19, but she was denied the title by another Williams – Venus’ sister Serena, who left the young Spaniard in tears at having come so close.
A first grand slam title did come her way in 2016, though, as she got some revenge on Serena by lifting the French Open at the American’s expense.
Her form waivered from there and the defence of that crown consisted of a disappointing fourth-round exit, and little was expected of her heading to the grass-court grand slam.
However, with the help of former champion Conchita Martinez, she plotted a route to Saturday’s final, where she found Venus in her path.
All the sentimental votes went for Venus in her 20th appearance, the 37-year-old aiming to be the oldest champion in over a century in her first Wimbledon final since 2009.
Given Muguruza’s previous disappointment in the final – when she was comfortably outclassed by Serena – the prospect of facing another Williams sister looked worryingly like deja vu for the 23-year-old.
Could she banish that pain? Would she be denied once more by the dominant Williams dynasty?
Early on she understandably looked nervous, her forehand particularly wasteful as she let Venus off the hook in some service games.
Her own serve worked beautifully, though, and even when it was put under pressure in the 10th game of the final she rallied to save two set points.
That seemed to restore Muguruza’s belief and after breaking Venus she took the opening set as the American began to tire.
Her Wimbledon nightmares were officially banished as the wheels appeared to come off for Venus, Muguruza reeling off nine straight games to claim the title, suppressing any nerves superbly as Williams’ fairy tale came to a disappointing end.
With the win she becomes the second female Spanish champion after Martinez, who also beat a 37-year-old – Martina Navratilova – on her way to the 1994 crown.
She moves onto two grand slam titles and with her Wimbledon hoodoo gone, she could comfortably go on to lift the Venus Rosewater dish on a few more occasions.
Two years ago Serena told Muguruza not to be sad because she would be “holding this trophy very soon”. How right she was!
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