LONDON, July 15, (AFP): Garbine Muguruza stormed to her first Wimbledon title and shattered Venus Williams’ history bid with a majestic 7-5, 6-0 victory in Saturday’s final.
Muguruza overwhelmed Williams with a supreme display of power hitting in 77 minutes on Centre Court to become only the second Spanish woman to win Wimbledon.
Watched from the Royal Box by King Juan Carlos of Spain, the 23-year-old finally got her hands on the Venus Rosewater Dish two years after losing to the American’s sister Serena in her maiden Wimbledon final.
Fittingly, it was Muguruza’s current coach Conchita Martinez who was the first woman to raise the Spanish flag at Wimbledon in 1994 when she defeated Martina Navratilova.
Venezuela-born Muguruza’s second Grand Slam title, following her French Open triumph last year, denied Williams, 37, in her attempt to become the oldest Wimbledon champion in the Open era. Back in the Wimbledon final after an eight-year absence, Williams had hoped to clinch a sixth All England title, nine years after she last lifted the trophy.
Instead, she paid the price for a surprisingly nerve-ridden display that condemned her to a second Grand Slam disappointment this year following her Australian Open final loss against Serena.
Since winning her maiden Grand Slam title in Paris, Muguruza had endured something of a sophomore slump as her ranking dropped out of the top 10.
But she has rediscovered her mojo on grass and will climb to fifth when the new rankings are confirmed next week.
Remarkably, of her four tour-level titles, two are now Grand Slams.
With persistent drizzle blanketing the All England Club, Williams and Muguruza were competing in the first Wimbledon final to begin under the roof, watched by a sell-out crowd including Hollywood actress Hilary Swank.
Twenty years ago, Venus admitted she was a bundle of nerves when she made a losing Wimbledon debut against Magdalena Grzybowska and, in her ninth All England Club final, once again there was anxiety coursing through the American’s error-strewn display.
Fortified by a cross-court winner to bring up break point at 3-2, Williams looked poised to seize control, but instead a tame forehand into the net to let Muguruza off the hook.
It was the first of a series of vital escapes for Muguruza, who was matching Venus blow for blow in a series of bruising baseline rallies.
Gifted two set point at 4-5, Venus couldn’t deliver the knockout blow and Muguruza over-powered her in a gripping rally to save the first before scrambling out of trouble on the second.
Muguruza had the momentum now, her piercing ground-strokes gradually moving Williams into enough awkward areas to land the crucial first break at 5-5.
Williams was rattled by Muguruza’s barrage, fatally allowing the Spaniard’s lob to drop in and present her with set points that she gleefully gobbled up.
Muguruza was just six when Venus first won Wimbledon and the 23-year-old’s third major final appearance was dwarfed by Williams’ 16 Grand Slam title matches.
But in all those finals, only Serena had produced the lethal power and poise Muguruza was showing and suddenly Williams was beginning to look her age.
Still reeling from the shock of losing the first set, she served up a limp double fault on break point to hand Muguruza the lead at the start of the second set.
Williams was shattered and Muguruza went for the kill so ruthlessly that in the blink of an eye she had broken twice more to take a 5-0 lead.
Muguruza had spoken eloquently this week of etching her name onto the Wimbledon honours board alongside Venus, Serena and the other All England Club icons. It took one last blizzard of thunderous winners to ensure her dream would come true.
Meanwhile, Venus vowed to make amends for her Wimbledon final heartache by ending a bittersweet year on a high at the US Open.
“I’m in good form. I’ve been in a position a lot of times this year to contend for big titles,” Venus said.
“That’s the kind of position I want to keep putting myself in. It’s just about getting over the line. I believe I can do that.
“This is where you want to be. I like to win. I don’t want to just get to a final. It’s just about playing a little better.
“I’ve had a great two weeks. I’m looking forward to the rest of the summer.”
Batting away questions that invited her to blame the 24-minute second set meltdown on tiredness caused by her illness, Venus admitted she could have no complaints about the result.
Her only regret was a failure to take the break points that came her way in a fiercely fought first set.
“Definitely would have loved to have converted some of those points. But she competed really well. So credit to her. She played amazing,” Venus said.
“There’s always something to learn from matches that you win and the ones that you don’t win. So there’s definitely something for me to learn from this.
“I went for some big shots and they didn’t land. Probably have to make less errors.”
Umpire Eva Asderaki-Moore had inspected the barren, grassless baseline at Venus’s request before play got underway on Centre Court, but the American wouldn’t criticise the state of a surface that has come under fire from stars including Novak Djokovic.
“They said the court was ready to go, so we started play,” she said.
Twenty years after making her Wimbledon debut, Venus isn’t keen to bow out on such a frustrating low note.
Asked if she would return next year, she said: “Presumably, yes.
“It took a lot of effort to get right here today. So this is where I want to be every single major.
“What else can I say? It was a great experience.”