Twenty three years ago, a 22-year-old Conchita Martinez upset a 37-year-old Martina Navratilova, to become the first Spanish woman to win Wimbledon, denying her veteran opponent a 10th title at the All England Club.
On Saturday, Martinez watched her compatriot Garbine Muguruza defeat the 37-year-old five-time champion, Venus Williams 7-5, 6-0 to claim her first Wimbledon crown and second Grand Slam trophy.
Muguruza paid tribute to Williams during the trophy ceremony, and talked about how it felt facing someone she watched on TV growing up. The crowd bizarrely laughed at such a statement, perhaps emphasising the 15-year age difference between the two competitors.
Muguruza later elaborated during her press conference saying: “When I knew I was playing Venus in the final, I was actually looking forward for it. You know, people were surprised when I said in French Open, that I had Serena in the final. No, I’m like, But that’s the final. A Wimbledon final with Serena and Venus… You know, she won five times, so she knows how to play.
“For me was a challenge to have her, growing up watching her play. Everybody start laughing. But, in fact, is something incredible. I was so excited to go out there and win, especially over somebody like a role model.”
In a high-quality final on Saturday, and in the presence of Spain’s former King Juan Carlos, Muguruza became her country’s second women’s Wimbledon champion and she did it with Martinez in her corner, coaching her in the absence of her regular coach Sam Sumyk.
“Congratulations, Garbine, amazing. I know how hard you work and I’m sure this means so much to you and your family, so well done today, beautiful,” said a gracious Williams after the final.
Two years ago, Muguruza had lost the Wimbledon final to Williams’ sister Serena, who is currently pregnant and away from the game.
Asked to send a message to her sister, Venus said: “I miss you, I tried my best to do the same things you do but I think there will be other opportunities, I do.”
The first break point of the match game in the sixth game on the Muguruza serve but Williams was unable to capitalise on her opportunity and the Spaniard held for 3-3.
Williams saved her first break point in the following game as both players refused to budge.
Serving to stay in the set at 4-5, Muguruza faced two break/set points. The pair traded blows in what was the rally of the match thus far, engaging in a thrilling forehand-to-forehand battle that went Muguruza’s way and the Spaniard eventually held for 5-5.
It was Muguruza’s turn to get chances to break and she fist-pumped her way to her bench when she out-rallied a powerful Williams to go ahead 6-5.
The No14 seed hit an unfathomable defensive lob that curled to the right before landed in the corner to get her hands on two set points. Williams saved the first but Muguruza took a one-set lead on her second opportunity after 51 minutes of high-intensity tennis.
The 23-year-old broke to open the second set and consolidated for a 2-0 advantage. Muguruza had found her range wasn’t letting up while Williams was caught at the net twice, with passing shots whizzing by her to face break point in game three. Muguruza went up a double-break moments later as a Williams volley sailed wide.
“Definitely she hit some great passing shots that definitely opened the gap up a lot more and gave her some more opportunities. Just credit to her for forcing the issue there,” said Williams later.
A 14th winner of the match from Muguruza saw her jump to a 5-0 lead. And after a correct challenge from the Spaniard that revealed a Williams ball was long, Muguruza sealed a historic victory, covering her face in disbelief before she raced to the net to hug her American opponent.
“I think it’s inside, of course I’m nervous, I always dreamed to be here, I was composed I guess,” Muguruza told Sue Barker on court.
Asked to send a message to her absent coach Sumyk, Muguruza lifted her trophy to the camera and said: “Here it is.”