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Saturday, 11 July 2015 17:45 PM BST
Muguruza looks a champion in waiting
Serena Williams is full of praise for her opponent and predicts that one day the Spaniard will win Wimbledon. READ MORE

If Garbine Muguruza harboured any doubts that she had just participated in the highlight of her 21-year-old life despite losing the Wimbledon Ladies’ Singles final, they were swept away by the generosity of the praise heaped upon her by her victorious opponent, Serena Williams.

In the prizegiving following her 6-4, 6-4 victory, Serena said: “Garbine played so well. Congratulations, you will be holding this trophy very, very soon, believe me.” Muguruza’s response to this forecast? “It’s good when you hear something like this from a legend. Hopefully I can do it. I was close.”

Muguruza, moved to tears by the affectionate accolade from the Centre Court crowd as she accepted the runner-up trophy, insisted: “I enjoyed it a lot. I don’t have words to say how I feel. I love to play this sport, and a Grand Slam final is a dream come true.”

For a time, albeit it a fleeting time, it seemed possible, just possible, that Muguruza, who had never previously gone beyond Wimbledon's second round, might pull off a sensational upset of the all-conquering Williams when she led 4-2 in the first set.

She was playing nervelessly, positively and confidently, as she had promised she would and, crucially, she was the recipient of considerable assistance from the other side of the net. In an opening game which lasted seven minutes, Serena double-faulted three times and on the fourth break point obligingly struck a forehand out of court.

I am going to leave here really motivated. This will give me the power to keep practising and improving

- Garbine Muguruza

With the crowd enthusiastically behind her as they scented they might be witnesses to one of the great sporting upsets of all time, Serena was forced to slow the pace of the match until she had gathered her powers of counter-attack and injected more accuracy into her afternoon’s work. Would the woman who delights in cooking, with her speciality puddings, be about to serve up something designed to cook Serena’s ambitions of owning all four Grand Slam titles at the same time?

Serena’s response was that of a true champion. The Spaniard was broken twice and the forehand which had been a weapon turned into a liability as, with Williams bearing down like a runaway express, she started to over-hit in a bid to match Serena’s power.

A set down after 44 minutes, Muguruza needed early success in the second set. She almost had it, courtesy of another brace of Serena double faults, only for the top seed to escape with a 123mph ace, the fastest of the match. That shot sparked a spell in which 11 successive points were lost by Muguruza until, having dropped serve to love to fall 5-1 down, she struck back with a ferocity to match Serena’s.

Breaking the Williams serve twice she pulled back to 5-4 with Centre Court roaring its approval. Could she pull off a result even better than her win over Serena at the 2014 French Open?

It was not to be. The occasion finally appeared to implant doubt in her mind and error in her play-making and she dropped serve to love, ending by projecting that favourite forehand wide of the mark.

But, as she pointed out, there were consolations, not least in the runner-up prize money of £940,000 and the 1,300 points which are certain to lift her into the world’s top ten when the new rankings are announced on Monday.

Muguruza admitted that at the after-match ceremony, “I couldn’t stop crying, so many people were clapping. I felt special because I think they saw in me that I really wanted to win, that I was really enjoying it, that I give everything to tennis. They actually liked seeing someone fighting so much. It has been an emotional two weeks, but really happy.

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“I am going to leave here really motivated. This will give me the power to keep practising and improving, to see what else I can do.”