Wasting no time settling into her new role, the new Queen of Wimbledon, Garbine Muguruza, wondered how far her powers would extend. Could she request that Roger Federer dance with her?
The Spanish-Venezuelan star giggled when asked her for preference at tonight’s Champions Ball when the men’s and women’s champions traditionally take to the floor. At first she didn’t want to choose but, when pressed, said: “Roger. I like Marin Cilic, I have to say, but I want to see if Roger’s that elegant also dancing!”
Muguruza beat Venus Williams 7-5, 6-0, thereby dashing the five-times title-holder’s hopes, at 37, of becoming the oldest woman to lift the trophy since Charlotte Sterry in 1908.
The 23-year-old lost the 2015 final to Venus’s sister Serena and had dreamed of seeing her name added to the roll-of-honour at the All England Club.
“It was amazing,” she said, after the inscription went up on the board. “I always look at the wall and see, you know, all the names and all the history. I’ve looked at my other final and I was always like: ‘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 not winning. So I’m so very happy that my name is there now.”
Muguruza was three years old when Williams made her Wimbledon debut in 1997. She grew up watching – and admiring – both Williams sisters and is now the first player to defeat both in Grand Slam finals following her French Open victory last year.
“When I knew I was playing Venus in the final, I was actually looking forward for it,” she said. “She’s won five times, so she knows how to play, [but] for me it was a challenge to have her, growing up watching her play.” Muguruza said the same thing before her final with Serena.
“Everybody start laughing,” she added, “but it’s something incredible. I was so excited to go out there and win, especially over somebody like a role model.”
The turning-point came when Muguruza saved two first-set break-points. After that she expected “the best Venus, because she was playing very good. I knew she was going to make me suffer and fight”. But Muguruza ended up winning the second set to love, the first time that had happened to Williams at Wimbledon.
Muguruza, a product of Spain’s clay courts who used to think grass was “weird”, explained how her style developed to end up suiting Wimbledon. “You know what, I used to play lobs. I was in defence, let’s say more Spanish-style. Then my body started to change, my arms got longer, I had to adapt to the tour and be more aggressive and take my chances. On grass, that actually works very well.”
Williams was generous in her praise, saying: “She played really well, top tennis.” The veteran enjoyed her Wimbledon – “I had a great two weeks” – and believes she can still win titles. And presumably she’d be back in SW19 next year? “Presumably, yes.”