Garbine caps Wimbledon campaign with final glory
TENNIS: In the week before Wimbledon started, Garbine Muguruza was obliterated at Eastbourne by Barbora Strycova.
The 6-1 6-0 scoreline was as stark as the Spaniard's mindset. A week earlier, she had been outplayed in the Birmingham semi-finals by Ashleigh Barty.
Without a title since the French Open last year, Muguruza was supposedly an All England Club liability.
Seven matches later, Muguruza has emerged as the only woman in history to have beaten both Serena and Venus Williams in a grand slam final, conceding only one of 15 sets to the crown.
Explaining how she transformed the ashes of the Strycova demolition into her second grand slam victory, Muguruza pointed to settled preparation.
The pressure of a failed Roland Garros defence had eased and she finally had clear headspace.
"Well, Eastbourne was such a short tournament, I didn't play well there,” she said.
"But I did the week before (at Birmingham), so that helped me.
"I always come very motivated to the grand slams.
"Since I lost the final here (to Serena in 2015), 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.
"I think today I played well.”
Muguruza was exceptional in a 7-5 6-0 triumph over five-time champion Venus Williams, clinching the last nine games of the match.
In the first blushes of victory, one of the first things she did was to walk to the honour board and check to see if her name was really there.
"Well, it was amazing. Like I said before, I always look at the wall and see, you know, all the names and all the history,” she said.
"I lost that final. I was close. I didn't wanted to lose this time, because I know the difference. I really know the difference of making a final, which is incredible, but...
"So happy that it's (her name) there now.”
Muguruza, 23, said she didn't panic when she slumped to 15-40 as she served to stay in the first set at 4-5.
"You know what, nothing went through my mind,” she said.
"I was expecting the best Venus, because I saw her, and she was playing very good.
"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 keep 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, like, calm. If I lose the first set, I still have two more. Let's not make a drama, you know.
"Very satisfied because I never knew how it was going to go because I was very nervous, tense.
"I wanted it to go my way. I was doing everything I could to be prepared.
"Once you step on the court, you see the crowd, you see the final, you see I'm here playing another Wimbledon final. So very satisfied the way I handled it.”