Garbine’s first, Serena’s wait on

  • New York Times
  • Updated: Jun 05, 2016 08:53 IST

PARIS: About 11 months ago, Garbiñe Muguruza stood drying on the grass court of Wimbledon after losing to Serena Williams in the final. The champion that day consoled the vanquished, telling her not to be sad, that one day she would win a Major.

Less than a year later, Williams’ prophecy came true at her own expense. In a rematch that was played on red clay, No. 4 Muguruza upset No. 1 Williams, 7-5, 6-4 to capture the French Open. It is the first Grand Slam for Muguruza, a 22-year-old Spaniard who was born in Venezuela.

For Williams, who was playing through a strained upper leg muscle, her pursuit of a 22nd Major will continue. Only two other women have won that many Majors, including Margaret Court, who won 24. Steffi Graf holds the Openera record with 22.

Williams won her 21st when she beat Mugur uza in the Wimbledon final last July, and at the time it seemed inevitable that she would have reached Graf’s mark by now. But a stunning loss to Roberta Vinci in a semifinal at the US Open prevented it from happening there. Another surprising loss came in Australia in January where she lost in the final to Angelique Kerber, then Saturday’s loss to Muguruza.

Muguruza was playing in only her second Grand Slam final. Before that, her best results were at the French Open, where she earned a spot in the quarters in 2014 and 2015.

Born in Caracas, Muguruza began playing tennis in Guarenas, just east of Caracas. When she was a school-age girl the family moved back to Spain, where Muguruza began to train in earnest and developed into an elite player.

She entered the main draw of the 2012 US Open as a teenager with a clear upward trajectory. But after reaching the final at Wimbledon, she did not immediately follow it up. Muguruza has acknowledged the challenge of overcoming her emotions and nerves, and she kept those mostly in check. After the Wimbledon final, she also picked up on something that may have served her at the French. “I learned that she’s also nervous,” Muguruza said of Williams that day, after the tears had dried up, “even though she played, I don’t know how many finals.”

The answer to that is 27. But none were quite like this one.

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