No longer burdened by expectation, big-stage reveller Garbine Muguruza has emerged as women’s tennis’s next superstar with a watershed Wimbledon final triumph.
Muguruza denied Venus Williams a fairytale sixth crown at age 37 with an explosive 7-5 6-0 win to add the sport’s most famous trophy to her 2016 French Open title.
Victory also atoned for a painful loss to Williams’s sister Serena in the 2015 final at The All England Club as the 23-year-old became the first player to conquer both American siblings in a grand slam title decider.
“When I knew I was playing Venus in the final, I was actually looking forward for it,” Muguruza said, having brought down Serena at Roland Garros last year.
“People were surprised when I said in the French Open that I (wanted) Serena in the final.
“But that’s the final. A Wimbledon final with Serena and (now) Venus … you know, she won five times, so she knows how to play.
“For me, it was a challenge to have her, growing up watching her play. Everybody started laughing. But, in fact, is something incredible.
“I was so excited to go out there and win, especially over somebody like a role model.”
Muguruza’s stunning victory comes a month after losing to Australian Ashleigh Barty in Birmingham and then wrapping up her Wimbledon preparations with a 6-1 6-0 surrender to Barbora Strycova in Eastbourne.
Set to climb back to second in the rankings, the one-time world No.2 admits consistency isn’t her strong point.
But she lives for the big stages.
“Eastbourne was such a short tournament, I didn’t play well there,” Muguruza said.
“But I did the week before, so that helped me. I always come very motivated to the grand slams.
“I don’t know. Since I lost the final here, I wanted to change that. I came thinking I’m prepared, I feel good.
“During the tournament and the matches, I was feeling better and better. Every match, I was increasing my level.”