Garbine Muguruza flung curses at her coach during her third round match. (AP Photo)
Garbine Muguruza may have won the 2016 French Open over Serena Williams in the final, but she might yet have growing up to do. Court-side at the Miami Open and in the midst of a then-tight match, she reportedly beckoned coach Sam Sumyk to "shut the f— up." Sumyk himself sought to tend to the situation directly and frankly upon returning for a mid-match coaching chat:
"Don't tell me to shut the f— up again," Sumyk said to his charge. The two had a conversation under a minute, including Muguruza's brief "I'm sorry ..." apology before Sumyk took over again. "Yes, but I heard it, everybody heard it." The exchange culminated with a positive note, as Sumyk stated, "We're good, so now we fight. ... We're good. ... We're good."
Here's their exchange from a slightly different angle:
The No. 6–ranked Muguruza saved 10 of 13 break points and went on to win the match, against No. 33 Shuai Zhang, by a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 count.
Here we have it, another example of the sometimes-engaging, often-unnecessary, frequently-mystifying use of on-court coaching in women's professional tennis. Muguruza would have no such opportunity to summon her coach to the court at major tournaments, where she has won one title to date.
It might be best that players take the Serena and Venus Williams approach to such things—and never call for their coaches. To bring them on court in the heat of battle, well, the benefit may not always be worth the cost. The optics aren't good.
The end result of doing otherwise is that awkward quasi-arguments such as this get written up about by tennis media (we are nothing if not self-aware). The truth of the matter is that the professional game was envisioned as a battle of minds as well as bodies wielding sticks, formerly wooden and now technological beyond the belief of even late-1990s–era players.
The veteran-at-23 Muguruza might do well to stick to her quite literally God-given guns. She has won a Slam over the GOAT, and Sumyk couldn't be summoned over those seven crucial matches. Two words: Trust thyself.