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Tennis: Muguruza hopes Wimbledon glory won't backfire

AFP , Saturday 15 Jul 2017
Muguruza
Spain's Garbine Muguruza holds the winners trophy after defeating Venus Williams of the United States, in the Women's Singles final match on day twelve at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London Saturday, July 15, 2017 AP
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Garbine Muguruza hopes the legacy of her first Wimbledon title will not be a depressing repeat of the torment she suffered after her 2016 French Open breakthrough.

The 23-year-old Spaniard stunned sentimental favourite Venus Williams 7-5, 6-0 on Saturday to clinch her second Grand Slam crown.

She immediately turned her thoughts to the future, hoping her triumph will be a launchpad for more majors rather than a one-way ticket into the abyss.

When she defeated Serena Williams to win Roland Garros last year, it was revenge for her loss to the American in the Wimbledon final 12 months earlier.

But instead of having the world at her feet, the burden of being a Grand Slam champion was too much.

She lost in the second round at Wimbledon last year to world number 124 Jana Cepelkova and crashed out at the same stage of the US Open to Anastasija Sevastova, ranked 48 at the time.

Muguruza made the quarter-finals of the Australian Open this year, but her Roland Garros title defence ended at the last-16 stage in tears and a bitter outburst at the Paris crowd.

"It's not easy. It's very good when you win it, and it's hard after when you come back and you know you have to defend," said Muguruza.

"But that's a good problem to have. It was tough obviously, because you know you have a lot of matches to go.

"I'm happy to be in this situation. I'm happy that once again I see myself winning a Grand Slam, something that is so hard to do. It means a lot.

'Very motivated'

Muguruza's title triumph on Saturday was her first of any kind since the 2016 French Open.

Two of her four career titles have now come at the majors.

When Muguruza lost in the first round at the Eastbourne grass-court event on the eve of Wimbledon, it looked like she was suffering another Paris hangover.

But with memories of her post-Roland Garros problems still fresh, she said she was determined to put the record straight.

She proved as good as her word, knocking out top seed Angelique Kerber, from a set down, and seventh-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova on her way to the final.

"Eastbourne was such a short tournament, I didn't play well there. But I did the week before in Birmingham (where she made the semi-finals), so that helped me," she said.

"I always come very motivated to the Grand Slams. Since I lost the final here I wanted to change that.

"I came thinking, I'm prepared, I feel good. During the tournament and the matches, I was feeling better and better. Every match, I was increasing my level."

She said a glance at the honours board at the All England Club also spurred her on to end Venus's dreams of becoming the oldest Grand Slam women's champion.

"I always look at the wall and see all the names and all the history. I lost that final. I'm like, I was close. I didn't wanted to lose this time, because I know the difference," she said.

On Saturday, Muguruza saved two set points at 4-5 in the opening set and swept the remaining nine games to take the title.

Ironically, Saturday's final represented the largest age gap between two finalists since 1994, when 22-year-old Conchita Martinez shocked 37-year-old Martina Navratilova for the Wimbledon title.

Twenty-three years later, Martinez was up in the player's box on Centre Court in her role as coach, standing in for Sam Sumyk, Muguruza's regular coach who was at home with his pregnant wife.

"My level at tennis doesn't change, no matter who is in my box or not. I'm the same player," she said.

"I like Conchita to be in my team because I have a great relation with her.

"The coincidence of her winning against Navratilova, me winning against Venus, there were a lot of things there -- it was awesome."

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