After overwhelming Serena Williams for her first French Open championship, Garbine Muguruza has set her sights on the biggest title of the lot - Wimbledon.
The 22-year-old lost to Williams in last year’s Wimbledon final but got her revenge at Roland Garros this weekend as she outplayed the most dominant player of her era with aggressive baseline tennis to win her first Grand Slam title, 7-5, 6-4.
“I have great memories from last year,” Muguruza told a small group of reporters a few hours after her victory when asked about Wimbledon. “But I have still that thing that I lost in the final. I just hope I can continue these great performances, that great level that I’ve had here,” added the Spaniard, the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen by her side.
Muguruza said she had been “very nervous” during her first slam final at the All England Club, squandering a 4-2 lead as Williams lifted her level to win her 21st grand slam title, 6-4, 6-4.
At Roland Garros, Muguruza dropped the first set in her opening round against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova before taking the next six matches in straight sets.
Williams was impressed with Muguruza, who is only the second player born in the 1990s to win a slam title after two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova.
Muguruza’s mindset in Paris had been different from last year at Wimbledon.
“Just thinking about what I have to do, what is under my control,” said Muguruza, who will jump two spots to No 2 on Monday.
“How am I going to play in the next point?” she added. “OK, this is how I am going to play. And don’t think about ‘it’s 4-3 I have a break point, this is a final of a grand slam.’ Because all this kind of stuff is going to make you play worse. That’s how I tried to control it, even though at some moments, your arm is shaking because you are nervous.”
Muguruza was the first Spanish woman into a Roland Garros final since Conchita Martinez in 2000 and the first woman from Spain to win since Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in 1998 but that’s where all similarities with her compatriots end.
The daughter of a Venezuelan mother and Spanish father, the 6'1" Muguruza has a game best suited for fast hard courts, with a powerful serve and hard ground strokes.
Muguruza’s first French Open title is only her third career title and her first on clay and comes after a topsy-turvy year.
After losing in the third round of the Australian Open, Muguruza was knocked out of the opening round in four events. But things improved once she hit the clay in Europe, reaching the semi-final in Rome the week before Roland Garros.
Her progress has been closely followed by three-time French Open champion Sanchez Vicario, who sat first row next to Billie Jean King in the President’s box during the women’s final.
“She probably is the up-and-coming player that I see is improving every year,” Sanchez Vicario said at Roland Garros last week. “She has the level, she has the game. She just needs to get more consistency the whole year and the maturity as well. Once she gets that, she will be more dangerous.”
As for Muguruza, she said she’s going straight to Spain to start preparing for the grass-court season with a new tournament in Mallorca that begins June 13.
“I'm very happy to go and play on grass in Spain,” she said. “It's going to be a bit special.”