Mugu­ruza sur­prises a Wil­liams for se­cond time

USA TODAY US Edition - - SPORTS - San­dra Har­witt

Un­doubt­edly, Gar­bine Mugu­ruza was mostly in the mar­ket for her own slice of tennis his­tory in the Wimbledon fi­nal Satur­day.

But when the 23-year-old Spa­niard picked up her se­cond Grand Slam tour­na­ment ti­tle, cour­tesy of a scorch­ing 7-5, 6-0 de­feat of Venus Wil­liams, she ac­tu­ally al­tered the Wil­liams sis­ters’ his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive as well.

Mugu­ruza, the 14th seed, is the only player to earn a Grand Slam ti­tle at the ex­pense of both sib­lings. She won her first ma­jor at the 2016 French Open, up­end­ing de­fend­ing cham­pion Ser­ena for the ti­tle.

Mugu­ruza scored the Wimbledon tro­phy against Venus, con­fi­dently win­ning the fi­nal nine games of the 77-minute match.

“When I knew I was play­ing Venus in the fi­nal, I was ac­tu­ally look­ing for­ward for it,” Mugu­ruza said. “It’s great to go out there and play some­body that you ad­mire.”

What made this vic­tory spe­cial for Mugu­ruza is it dims the mem­ory of her first trip to a Grand Slam fi­nal at Wimbledon two years ago. That time she was on the los­ing end of the de­ci­sion to Ser­ena Wil­liams, in straight sets.

Since that match, ev­ery time Mugu­ruza has gone by the honor board that lists the Wimbledon cham­pi­ons in the Mem­bers Area of the All Eng­land Club lobby, she has felt a pang of re­gret.

As soon as she came off the court a Wimbledon cham­pion, All Eng­land Club chair­man Philip Brook guided her over to that very wall where her name had al­ready been per­ma­nently added to the ros­ter.

See­ing her­self among the il­lus­tri­ous Wimbledon cham­pi­ons was over­whelm­ing.

“It was amaz­ing,” she said. “I al­ways look at the wall and see, you know, all the names and all the his­tory. I lost that fi­nal. I was close. I didn’t want 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 there now.”

When Mugu­ruza ini­tially was in­tro­duced to play­ing on grass, she felt as if she showed up in the wrong place. Span­ish play­ers grow up slid­ing around clay courts, and grass is most def­i­nitely a for­eign ab­strac­tion.

“At the begin­ning, I didn’t like grass,” Mugu­ruza ad­mit­ted. “For sure, I suf­fered to play and han­dle it. It took me a while ac­tu­ally to calm down, to say, ‘Hey, it’s grass, you have to adapt to the sur­face.

“I did this (first) Wimbledon fi­nal, ev­ery­thing changed for me, be­cause I felt like, ‘Stop com­plain­ing, your game suits this sur­face.’ ”

Mugu­ruza, who has yet to win mul­ti­ple ti­tles in a year, won her lone tro­phy of 2016 at the French Open. The Wimbledon crown is the Spa­niard’s first tro­phy this sea­son and only her fourth ti­tle dat­ing to 2014.

Also: For the first time in 25 years, the fe­male ju­nior cham­pion at Wimbledon is from the USA. Claire Liu beat another Amer­i­can, Ann Li, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 Satur­day in the fi­nal at the All Eng­land Club. In 1992, Chanda Ru­bin won the fe­male ju­nior crown.


Gar­bine Mugu­ruza, left, needed just 77 min­utes to beat Venus Wil­liams, right, for her first Wimbledon ti­tle.

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