Garbine Muguruza walked away from Roland Garros last month in tears but six weeks later, she strutted off Wimbledon Centre Court a crowned champion.
Muguruza cried during her post-defeat press conference in Paris, almost like she was releasing all the built-up tension she felt throughout the 12 months in which she was the French Open title holder.
She left the interview room at Roland Garros to collect herself after erupting in tears, and returned with a defiant look on her face, ready to look forward. It’s almost like she knew she’d win a second Grand Slam a few weeks later.
“It was an emotional moment. I read a lot of headlines saying ‘Garbine breaks down’ and stuff like that and I’m like ‘I’m not breaking down’, it’s just something human,” Muguruza explained following her Wimbledon triumph on Sunday.
“I felt pressure out there and I lost, I felt that I did a good tournament even though I didn’t reach that far. But I was like ‘I’m going to learn from this’, just turn the page, I have a whole grass-court season coming, I feel good, forget about the French Open, next year I’m going to go out there and try to do it better.”
She certainly did turn the page.
The Venezuela-born Spaniard was a force of nature during the fortnight at Wimbledon, and one thing that stood out the most is that she never panicked, even when she was down.
She rallied back from a set down to defeat top-seeded Angelique Kerber in the fourth round. Against Venus Williams in the final, she saved two set points in the 10th game – one with a brutal long rally – then held and never lost another game.
Great meeting the Dukes of Cambridge today the Club.— Garbiñe Muguruza (@GarbiMuguruza) July 16, 2017
Feliz de conocer a los Diques de Cambridge. pic.twitter.com/NZRkKqr8RM
“It seems like a lot of things should go through my mind (on those set points), right? But in fact I was like, ‘I was expecting that, I was ready to face difficult situations’. I was ready to be 5-1 up, 5-1 down, set points, because I had Venus in front of me and I know she’s a good player. I was not worried. I’m like, if I lose this set I have two more, but if I stick here I might turn it around and that’s what I did, just played the ball,” said the 23-year-old.
It’s no secret that Muguruza struggles with consistency, particularly after pulling off a big achievement. Her form dropped off after reaching her first Wimbledon final in 2015, and a similar dip took place after she won the 2016 French Open.
Does she feel she is now better equipped to avoid such a scenario?
“I would like to. People think that when you win it’s so easy, and it’s not easy also to handle it and probably I expect myself to play always so good and when it doesn’t happen it’s hard to deal with,” she admits.
“But I think the best way is to be humble, go back to the court, start even in the hard court season now and keep working and things will come. But not thinking that I’m going to play incredible every tournament.”
Does it get harder to love the sport when she is struggling to put together wins on the regular tour?
“I think a lot of people have this love-hate relation (with tennis) because it’s hard in the defeat, it’s very nice when you win, so it’s a combination and I also felt like that. When you win everything is beautiful, when you lose everything is darker, you’ve got to turn things around so it’s hard,” she says.
Muguruza has stated several times her admiration for Serena Williams – the winner of 23 Grand Slam titles. Serena dominated the sport for the past several years and plans on returning next year after she delivers her baby. Does Muguruza other dream about dominating the tour the way Serena did, rather than just up her level for the Slams?
“I don’t think anyone is going to dominate so long and so much like Serena, because it’s incredible. But I just want to go out there in the Grand Slams, the tournaments, and perform well, hopefully win the trophy. It’s simple but that’s my goal and that’s how I see it for now,” she replied.