Spain’s Garbine Muguruza has defied expectations to seize Wimbledon’s crown, defeating a valiant Venus Williams in a ruthlessly confident display of power and precision that only improved as the match developed.
After a solid start ruffled only by the occasional shaky forehand, Muguruza first subdued Williams and then tamed her absolutely.
At the end of the 7-5 6-0 final, Muguruza, 23, had not only added tennis’ most prestigious title to her 2016 French Open win, she had denied the 37-year-old Williams the unprecedented sixth Wimbledon triumph much of the tennis world believed was as good as in the bag.
Williams had been striving to become the oldest women’s champion on London’s hallowed grass courts in 109 years after qualifying for her ninth final — eight years after her eighth.
Muguruza had other ideas, demonstrating in her systematic domination of the crowd favourite that youth and power can trump experience and age.
Her victory also balanced the books for a loss to Williams’s younger sister, Serena, in the 2015 ttle decider.
The statuesque Spaniard turned the tables on Serena in last year’s French Open final and has now become the first player to topple both Williams siblings in grand slam finals.
The resurgent former world No.1 opened the match with a 175kph ace down the middle and clinched her first service game with a venomous backhand-down-the-line winner.
In contrast, Muguruza began with a double-fault, testifying to a case of nerves.
But the Spaniard steadied to hold comfortably as the two combatants continued to trade brutal baseline winners.
Williams created the first break-point opportunity with a sharp-angled crosscourt forehand pass in the sixth game.
But with a wide-open court, she dumped an off-forehand into the next before Muguruza escaped trouble with an ace and another Williams forehand error.
Three double-faults in one loose game had Williams under pressure and down break points at 3-3, but the veteran also averted strife with some big serving.
Muguruza found herself down two set points serving at 4-5 after consecutive forehand errors, but rose to the challenge as Williams peppered her most vulnerable wing to hold for 5-5.
Opportunity lost, Williams’ own forehand began to desert her as Muguruza claimed the vital first service break after a succession of unforced errors from the five-time champion.
As tensions rose, so too did the quality, with Muguruza seizing the opening set after 51 minutes.
The second set was a whitewash as surging Muguruza broke the dispirited American three times to secure victory after 77 minutes.
Ironically, Muguruza’s win, which lifts her from fifteenth to fifth in world rankings, came not as an immediate result of her inspired play, but as an anticlimax when she successfully challenged an erroneous baseline call.
-with wires and ABC