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The Draw: 30 June

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Sunday, 16 July 2017 09:11 AM BST
Muguruza: Wimbledon was unfinished business
New champion reveals that losing final to Serena inspired her to put it right against Venus READ MORE

Garbine Muguruza wanted to face Venus Williams in the ladies’ singles final. She relished the battle. She respected her history. And she rose to the occasion.

The No.14 seed now has as many Grand Slam titles as garden-variety WTA trophies, her Wimbledon triumph following victories at Hobart, Beijing and last year’s Roland Garros win. And just as she had in Paris, Muguruza peaked at the perfect moment. After ousting world No.1 Angelique Kerber in the fourth round – the only player to take a set from her this Fortnight – the Spaniard served flawlessly through the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final.

Then, when it mattered most, Muguruza produced a nine-game burst that stopped Williams in her tracks. The bigger the stage, the tougher the opponent, the higher the stakes, the better she played.

“I always come very motivated to the Grand Slams,” admitted Muguruza – but at Wimbledon, she arrived with unfinished buisness. “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.”

Muguruza is just the second Spaniard to win the ladies’ singles title, after her stand-in coach Conchita Martinez, and the first player to beat both Venus and Serena Williams in Grand Slam finals – a feat she took great pride in, having grown up watching the American greats redefine the women’s game and dominate at The Championships, winning 12 titles combined since the turn of the century.

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

- Garbiñe Muguruza

“When I knew I was playing Venus in the final, I was actually looking forward for it,” Muguruza said. “That's the final. A Wimbledon final with Serena and Venus – she won five times, so she knows how to play.

“For me was a challenge to have her, growing up watching her play. It’s something incredible. I was so excited to go out there and win, especially over somebody like a role model.”

The parallels between Martinez’s 1994 title win against a 37-year-old Martina Navratilova and Muguruza’s victory over Williams, also 37, were hard to ignore. But not for one minute did the 23-year-old believe age would be a factor in the final, knowing that Williams would push her from the outset.

“I was expecting the best Venus because I saw her, and she was playing very good,” said Muguruza, who saved two sets points at 4-5 before her nine-game streak. “I knew she was going to make me suffer and fight for it. When I had those set points against me, I'm like, 'Hey, it's normal. I'm playing Venus here.'

“So I just kept fighting. And I knew that if I was playing like I was playing during the two weeks, I was going to have eventually an opportunity. So I was calm. If I lose the first set I still have two more, let's not make a drama.”

The game’s greatest tests can overwhelm or inspire a player, as Muguruza’s semi-final opponent Magdalena Rybarikova found out on Centre Court. But do not mistake the Spaniard’s surge to a first Wimbledon title as a nerveless display – she embraces the pressure, thrives on it.

“In every match I feel like I'm nervous,” Muguruza said. “I think it's a good thing. And here, once I go to the big court, I feel good. I feel like that's where I want to be, that's what I practice for. That's where I play good, you know. This is what I would like to.

“I'm happy to go to the Centre Court and to play the best player. That's what motivates me.”

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