Spa­niard has beaten each Wil­liams sis­ter in a fi­nal

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Howard Fen­drich

LON­DON» As a kid, Gar­bine Mugu­ruza sat in awe in front of the TV as the Wil­liams sis­ters ac­cu­mu­lated Grand Slam ti­tles. They were her role mod­els.

Now Mugu­ruza is all grown up, an emerg­ing tennis star in her own right — and, as of Satur­day, the only woman who can boast of beat­ing each Wil­liams in a ma­jor fi­nal.

Mugu­ruza pow­ered her way to her first Wimbledon cham­pi­onship by play­ing fear­lessly and dom­i­nat­ing down the stretch, putting to­gether a 7-5, 6-0 vic­tory over a fad­ing Venus Wil­liams by claim­ing the fi­nal’s last nine games.

“It’s great to go out there and play some­body that you ad­mire,” Mugu­ruza said. “I knew she was go­ing to make me suf­fer and fight for it.”

This was Wil­liams’ 16th Grand Slam fi­nal and ninth at the All Eng­land Club. At 37, she was bid­ding for her sixth ti­tle at the grass-court ma­jor, 17 years af­ter her first. And she was so close to gain­ing the up­per hand against Mugu­ruza, hold­ing two set points at 5-4 in the opener. But Mugu­ruza fought those off and never looked back.

“She com­peted re­ally well. So credit to her,” Wil­liams

said. “She just dug in there.”

For Mugu­ruza, this fi­nal was her third at a ma­jor.

In her first, at Wimbledon in 2015, she lost to Wil­liams’ younger sis­ter, Ser­ena. But in her se­cond, at the French Open last year, Mugu­ruza again faced Ser­ena — and won. That was the most re­cent fi­nal Mugu­ruza had played in at any tour­na­ment un­til Satur­day, an in­di­ca­tion of the sort of upand-down 12 months she’s had.

But with stand-in coach Con­chita Martinez push­ing her to play each point on its own mer­its — don’t look back, don’t think ahead — Mugu­ruza was able to re­gain her best form these two weeks. Tak­ing the ball early, be­ing ag­gres­sive from the start of each point and not re­lent­ing, Mugu­ruza did to Wil­liams what the Amer­i­can and her sib­ling of­ten do to their op­po­nents.

Here was how Mugu­ruza’s on-court ap­proach was de­scribed by Span­ish Fed Cup and Davis Cup cap­tain Martinez, whose 1994 Wimbledon ti­tle was the coun­try’s most re­cent for a woman un­til Satur­day: “She’s very brave.”

Es­pe­cially against Wil­liams.

Es­pe­cially in crunchtime. “I was just very com­posed,” the 23-year-old Mugu­ruza said. “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 . ... I’m happy to go to the Cen­tre Court and to play the best player. That’s what mo­ti­vates me.”

Glyn Kirk, Getty Im­ages

Spain’s Gar­bine Mugu­ruza cel­e­brates af­ter beat­ing Venus Wil­liams in their cham­pi­onship match at Wimbledon on Satur­day. Mugu­ruza won 7-5, 6-0.

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