Every week Baseline will select a “Player of the Week.” That athlete may not always win the highest category tournament that week, but perform the best compared to their recent playing history.
Garbine Muguruza had come a long way since losing 6-1, 6-0 in the first round of Eastbourne before heading to the All England Club.
Just over two weeks later, the 23-year-old was in a familiar position: a Grand Slam final. She won last year’s French Open, but lost the Wimbledon final in 2015 to Serena Williams. Before walking onto Centre Court in London, Muguruza got a reminder of that loss.
“I always look at the wall and see, you know, all the names and all the history,” Muguruza said. “I lost that final. I'm like, I was close. I didn't wanted to lose this time, because I know the difference.”
Yet Muguruza wasn’t anxious, which you might expect of a player who wants something badly. The Spaniard was playing Venus Williams, who at 37 was playing well enough to win a sixth Venus Rosewater Dish. The American had two opportunities to grab the first set, yet it was Muguruza who remained calm, using her powerful game in key moments of the match. Call it controlled aggression.
Once Williams lost her break chances, she lost the match, and quickly. It was as if Williams couldn’t think of a solution to Muguruza’s game.
Muguruza’s tremendous victory in the final, a second Grand Slam win, wasn't her toughest victory this fortnight. She faced a hungry, desperate world No.1-ranked Angelique Kerber in the round of 16, eventually winning it in a tight three-setter.
“We play both the finals here already,” Kerber said. “It was a really high-class level match. So it could be also the semis or the finals.”
The hard-hitting right-hander then lost a total of nine games in the quarterfinals and semifinals to get to Williams.
The four Slams since Muguruza’s French Open win were not good runs for a player who many thought would ascend the rankings with a game that could beat anyone on any day. She lost in the second round of two majors and in the fourth round of another, while finishing in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open.
But in her match against Williams, Muguruza showed why she was a Grand Slam champion in the first place. And if she continues to perform like that, there is little doubt that she will collect more Slam titles. Fifty percent (two of her four) WTA titles are major crowns.
One thing is for sure—Muguruza will never look at the wall outside of Centre Court at the All England Club the same ever again.
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