Serena Williams achieved her goal of a second "Serena Slam" and the Wimbledon public found a new heroine in Garbine Muguruza. If the American's 6-4 6-4 victory was nothing less than the world had expected, Muguruza gave a performance that suggested the 21‑year-old Spaniard will be a major force in years to come.
Making her debut in a Grand Slam final, Muguruza set the pace in the first set and launched a thrilling comeback from 5-1 down in the second. Williams, however, has been in similar situations on countless occasions and held her nerve when it mattered to claim her sixth Wimbledon title, which puts her one ahead of her sister Venus.
With 21 Grand Slam titles, Williams is one short of Steffi Graf’s Open era record and three behind Margaret Court’s all-time record. The world No 1, who has won 29 of her last 31 finals, gets better with age. She has won eight of the 13 Grand Slam tournaments she has played since Patrick Mouratoglou became her coach three summers ago. At 33 years and 289 days she is the oldest Grand Slam champion of the modern era.
“I didn’t want to talk about the Serena Slam,” Williams said. “I honestly wouldn’t have thought last year after winning the US Open that I would win the Serena Slam at all. It’s super-exciting. I just knew I wanted to win Wimbledon this year. Of all the Grand Slams, it was the one I hadn’t won in a while.”
Considering Eugenie Bouchard’s fall from grace in the 12 months since she lost in her first Grand Slam final here last year, caution might be advisable in contemplating Muguruza’s future. However, the Spaniard, who will climb into the world’s top 10 for the first time this week, has made a great impression in the last fortnight. Her big ground strokes and athleticism are perfect attributes for the modern game, while her natural warmth and sense of humour have captivated the public.
Having beaten Williams at the French Open last year, she had gone into the final promising she would not be over-awed. She was true to her word. From the start Muguruza hit the ball with freedom and took the game to Williams.
Indeed it was Williams who made the more nervous start, hitting three double faults as she dropped her serve in a tense opening game. After only 15 double faults in her first six matches here, Williams finished this match with eight more. When Williams served at 0-2 and 0-30 she repeatedly screamed in frustration at her failure to find her serving rhythm, but soon clawed her way back into the match.
At 3-2 and 15-40 Muguruza saved two break points with thumping forehands, but at 4-3 she saved one break point with an ace before missing a forehand on the second. The fightback had begun.
Muguruza stopped the rot by winning the second game of the second set, but as the Spaniard’s forehand started to misfire Williams quickly took advantage. When the American broke serve to lead 5-1 she had won 12 points in a row and nine of the previous 10 games.
However, just when Muguruza appeared to be on the ropes, the world No 20 started throwing her best punches again. Rediscovering her timing and her attacking intent, Muguruza broke twice in a row as Williams served for the match.
When Muguruza hit a stunning backhand cross-court pass winner to go 0-30 up at 5-3, even Williams joined in the prolonged applause. Williams reached match point in that game, but Muguruza saved it with a forehand at the end of a thrilling rally. When the Spaniard converted her fifth break point of the game she was given a standing ovation.
However, Muguruza double-faulted on the first point at 4-5 and then saw a Williams shot hit the top of the net and trickle over the other side. A missed backhand gave Williams three more match points and she needed only one of them as Muguruza hit a forehand wide.
At the presentation ceremony a tearful Muguruza was given a prolonged standing ovation, with Williams again joining the applause. “I couldn’t stop crying,” Muguruza said. “So many people were clapping. I had made all these people feel this in a tennis court? I felt special.”
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