The chances of Garbiñe Muguruza hoisting the Venus Rosewater Dish tomorrow are not high, no matter what standard is applied. That’s because her opponent — Serena Williams — is the standard and the Spaniard comes off second on every comparison.
Yet, the match will go off — it’s the only way to find out what no one can predict.
That element of mystery, as stadium seats are dusted, tennis ball cans pop open, and chilled cream splashes over strawberries, will be the unforeseen excitement that grips Centre Court Wimbledon. Muguruza, the unsung heroine in her first Grand Slam final, cannot be raked aside as would scattered leaves on a lawn. She earned her berth, defeating six opponents and gaining confidence with every point scored.
Seeded No. 20, she took out Vavara Lepchenko, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Angelique Kerber (No. 10), Caroline Wozniacki (No. 5), Timea Bacsinszky (No. 15), and former Wimbledon finalist Agnieszka Radwanska (No. 13). The first set against Kerber was one of the most exciting of the fortnight, as Muguruza won the first-set tiebreak 14-12, and went on to win the match in three sets.
Asked by the press if she felt comfortable on grass, Muguruza said, “I didn’t play so many in grass. At the beginning I was like – What is this, the grass? Because in Spain, we never thought about grass. I’m getting used to it. I think I’m very comfortable with my game on grass.”
Off all opponents in her path, she performed the best against the highest seed — Wozniacki — beating her 6-4 6-4 in a tough hour-and-a-half match. For a power-hungry baseliner, Muguruza won 82 percent of her points at the net.
“I have to go down really low,” she said, replying to a question about her biggest adjustment on grass. “My legs are so tall and I have to lean my back.”
To talk about game adjustments seems out of place, given the occasion. That she whipped herself into shape over almost two weeks broadly illustrates her athleticism, desire, and willingness to adapt to conditions.
Muguruza’s results on grass coming in to Wimbledon were nothing to write home about. She was knocked out of Birmingham in the first round by unseeded Magdalena Rybarikova; at Eastbourne, she lost to wild card Johanna Konta in the second round. Muguruza was not called into main press room at Wimbledon until her win over Kerber, either. That’s how low under the radar she was flying.
“I’m surprised that my first semifinals is on grass,” she told the press after defeating French Open semifinalist, Timea Bacsinszky, 7-5, 6-3. “But I think I’m playing really good. The surface helps me.”
At 21, Muguruza will enter the Wimbledon final as one of the few born in the 1990’s. She shares that distinction with Eugenie Bouchard, Wimbledon’s 2014’s runner-up; Simona Halep, 2014 Roland Garros runner-up; Caroline Wozniacki, the 2014 runner-up at the U.S. Open; and Petra Kvitova, two-time Wimbledon champion in 2011 and 2014.
Muguruza has described herself as brave. Tomorrow she will have to be her bravest on a tennis court. Although young with a fantastic career ahead of her, she will be on the biggest stage for the game; across the net will be 33-year-old Williams, the most formidable opponent on the planet.
“To have Serena in the final is the hardest match you can have,” she said. “If you want to win a Grand Slam, when you dream, you say, ‘I want Serena in the final.’”
The two women are 13 years apart in age. Muguruza’s dream final becomes ever more surreal when you consider the age difference and the fact that the Spaniard’s idol growing up was Williams.
As Williams — the best in the world seeking her sixth Wimbledon title, her third consecutive major of the year, and her 21st major overall — takes the walk from the ladies’ locker room and steps foot on that hallowed court, and Muguruza walks behind this extraordinary woman, roars will let loose. The complexion of the atmosphere will shift, as fans shift in their seats. They might question if their reality isn’t a dream. That they will indeed witness what is hoped to be a high-caliber match with the American competing for such high honors as the Spaniard tries to write her own history.
Whatever the results, and projections heavily favor Williams, Muguruza will move into the top 10 for the first time and Serena will remain No. 1.
One final note of caution on predictions: in 1994, nine-time Wimbledon singles champion Martina Navratilova lost to Spaniard Conchita Martinez in Navratilova’s farewell appearance to Grand Slam competition in singles.
Top Two Seeds to Play Ladies’ Doubles Championship
Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza, the No. 1 seeded team, and Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova, the No. 2 seeded team, will play for Wimbledon glory tomorrow.
Hingis and Mirza dismissed Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears, 6-1 6-2, in a semifinal that lasted 56 minutes. It will be their first appearance at a major as a team.
Vesnina’s and Makarova’s day played out at the other end of the spectrum, as the 2014 finalists, Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos, lost a heartbreaking three-set thriller, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. The second set was packed with three breaks of serve, as last year’s finalists ran off three consecutive games from a break down to interrupt the hopes of their opponents. Down *1-5 in the third, they mounted another charge until the No. 2 seeds clinched the win with lefty Makarova’s steady serve and her partner’s intuitive support.
“Our last two matches were so tough, and we were losing in the third all the time before this year,” Makarova said, as reported by the WTA. “We’re really happy to be in the final. It’s our first time going this far here.”
The two teams have faced off twice this year, in Indian Wells and Miami, with both matches going to Hingis and Mirza.
Men’s Doubles, Could Be One for the other Murray
Although Andy Murray could do little to combat the masterly performance from Roger Federer today in one men’s semifinal, Jamie Murray has a chance with partner John Peers to write history for the Murray clan on the doubles court. The team will face Jean-Julian Rojer and Horia Tecau, the fourth seeded team, in tomorrow’s final.
The elder Jamie and Jelena Jankovic won mixed doubles at Wimbledon in 2007.
“We are getting our rewards and we are excited to be here,” Murray said, as the BBC reported.
The gentlemen’s and ladies’ doubles finals follow the women’s singles final tomorrow.