In the ladies' singles final at Wimbledon on Saturday, standing between Serena Williams and the ‘Serena Slam’ (holding all four Grand Slams concurrently) title will be 21-year old Venezuelan-born Spaniard who most tennis fans are not familiar with. The player in question, Garbine Muguruza, currently holds a respectable singles ranking of 19 on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) charts. Those who have been keenly following tennis would know that Muguruza is no stranger to the game.
Muguruza made her WTA debut through a wild card in 2012 in the Miami Open Masters 1000 tournament.
The world of sport started to take notice of Muguruza when she shocked Serena Williams in straight sets 6-2, 6-2 in the second round of the French Open last year. It was a loss Williams described as 'eye-opening' and one she learned a lot from. "She knows that I can win against her, that I'm not afraid," said Muguruza in an interview leading up to Saturday's final.
When the two met again, in the fourth round of the Australian Open earlier this year, Muguruza won the first set before Williams came storming back to win the next two.
Muguruza has been in blazing hot form this tournament notching victories over formidable opponents. Her last four victories have come over 10th-seeded Angelique Kerber, world number 5 Caroline Wozniacki, world number 15 and French Open semi-finalist Timea Bacsinszky and, on Thursday in an often-spectacular three-set match, the resurgent 13th seed Agnieszka Radwanska, the 2012 Wimbledon runner-up with a tennis brain as big as Muguruza's down-the-line forehand.
From admirer to competitor
Muguruza was just five years old when Serena Williams won her first Grand Slam back in the 1999 US Open. Muruguza has literally grown up admiring and analyzing Williams’ game. It would be interesting to see how the relative newbie faces the 33-year old Williams’ who has more or less dominated womens’ tennis for almost 15 years now.
If Williams thinks aspects of Muguruza's game look familiar, she will only have herself to blame because the Spaniard grew up studying the American's game under a microscope.
"She was an inspiration to me because when I was watching her play finals on TV... it's one of those moments you want to learn how she plays and try to see what you can do to play like her," the Venezuelan-born Muguruza said.