In her quest to equal one of the game’s greatest marks—Steffi Graf’s Open Era record of 22 Grand Slam singles titles—world No. 1 Serena Williams moved one step closer to tying that number when she won the 2015 Wimbledon crown over the young Spaniard, Garbine Muguruza. It was her third major victory of the year, with only the US Open remaining to complete the calendar-year Grand Slam. However, in one of the sport’s biggest upsets, she was stopped in the semifinals there by Roberta Vinci.
Kicking off her 2016 Grand Slam campaign at the Australian Open, Williams reached the final but was defeated by Angelique Kerber. Her next crack at tying Graf’s record would come at the French Open, where she was the defending champion. Riding the momentum of her Italian Open title before the tournament, the top seed reached the final, dropping only one set along the way. There, she would face Muguruza, contesting her second major championship match in less than a year. After dropping a set in her opener, the number-four seed didn’t lose another on her way to the last round.
Though she had lost three of their four prior matches, Muguruza entered the match with confidence: Her lone win against Williams came at the 2014 French Open, where she dealt the American her worst loss ever at a Grand Slam. In the first set, the two players came out hitting aggressively, with Muguruza striking first in the fifth game to get an early break. Williams rallied to tie things up, but the Spaniard broke again late to go up 6-5, then closed out the set on her serve.
The second set saw Muguruza pressing for an early advantage, which she gained by breaking at 1-1. Stretching out that lead, the fourth seed went up 3-5 and earned four match points against Williams’ serve, before the 21-time Grand Slam champion saved them all. Undaunted by letting those opportunities slip away, Muguruza went up 40-0, and on her fifth match point, struck a perfect backhand lob over Williams’ head after a short rally to clinch her first Grand Slam title.
This loss marked the first time in Williams’ career that she lost consecutive Grand Slam finals.
Muguruza won her third career singles title at Roland Garros. The last female player to accomplish that feat was her countrywoman Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, who did it in 1989, when she became the first Spaniard to win the women’s championship
All five of the career matchups between Muguruza and Williams came at the Grand Slam level, with the American holding on to a 3-2 lead after this loss.