“Muguruza Beats Serena” was the catchphrase for Saturday June 4, 2016, when Garbine Muguruza won her first major trophy and prevented Serena Williams yet again from collecting her twenty-second Grand Slam title. The fourth-seeded challenger outperformed the defending champion in a 7-5, 6-4 victory at Roland Garros Stadium in Paris.
According to the Toronto Star, Muguruza, 22, in video replays shows how she uses big groundstrokes to keep Williams, 34, off-balance. Muguruza executes nine double-faults with a relentless aggression that beats down the top-seeded champ’s defenses. What it boils down to is that Muguruza broke Serena four times, including three in a row.
Williams gamely concedes defeat after the ordeal in which Muguruza beats her convincingly. Serena is generous in her praise.
“She has a bright future, obviously. She knows how to play on the big stage and clearly, she knows how to win Grand Slams.”
TSN points out the irony of Muguruza’s win following a comment the day before the French Open final, by Serena Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou. On being made to visualize his player lifting her level as she beats Garbine, he had to chuckle as he spoke. He was clearly optimistic about Serena collecting her 22nd Grand Slam title, equalling Steffi Graf’s Open-era mark of 22 major singles championships.
“I don’t know why everybody’s so impressed with Garbine. Did she win a Slam ever?”
The landmark event was Muguruza’s second major final, covering for her loss to Williams at Wimbledon last year. What counts is that Muguruza has won her past two matches against Williams on the clay of Roland Garros, including in the second round in 2014. Tallying up from the start of the 2013 French Open, Muguruza beats Serena, who is 0-2 in Paris against the Spanish player and 21-0 against the rest.
The rapid action unfolds thus: Muguruza racks up a definite advantage after clinching breaks that gives her the first set and a lead in the second. Williams tries to rally by casting aside a quartet of match points for Muguruza at 5-3. There is nothing Williams can do about the fifth, which Muguruza converts with a lob that lands right on the baseline as she beats Serena.
Muguruza turns with a blank expression to her coach and other supporters in the bleachers while Williams applauds. It seems to dawn on Muguruza that she has become the Grand Slam champion who beats the odds to come out on top. She lies back in ecstasy, getting clay stains on her dress and arms as Serena looks on.
According to Euronews, Muguruza broke Williams three times on the way to the much ballyhooed 7-5, 6-4 win. Muguruza is the first Spaniard to wave the Suzanne Lenglen trophy since Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in 1998. After her loss to Williams 6-4, 6-4 in last year’s Wimbledon final, the Spaniard’s performance in which she beats Serena is long overdue. Muguruza shares her thoughts.
“I can’t explain with words what this title means to me … You work all your life to get here. I want to congratulate Serena, because she is one of the best players. I want to thank my group, my family. I’ve grown up playing on clay, so for me and Spain this is just amazing. Hopefully next year we’ll be back.”
The Paris match showed Muguruza starting off on a rough patch. She lost the first set of her game against 38th-ranked Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. Then the tide turned as the Spaniard doubled down to owning her next 14 sets with a take-the-ball-early strategy. It was a foreshadowing of the clincher wherein she beats Serena.
The rain that flooded Paris enough to shut down the Louvre museum, upset the tournament scheduling. Consquently, Williams played four straight days in the final stretch, though she did not blame the messed-up timing or her leg muscle problem for the end result in which Muguruza beats her. Serena waxed philosophical, paraphrasing what her opponents normally tell her.
“Just goes to show you, you really have to play the big points well, and I think she played the big points really well.”
[Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images]