Garbiñe Muguruza has officially arrived…
The 22-year-old Spanish/Venezuelan tennis player defeated World No. 1 Serena Williams 7-5, 6-4 at the French Open on Saturday to claim her first-ever Grand Slam title.
Muguruza’s win prevented Williams from tying Steffi Graf‘s Open-era record of 22 Grand Slam titles for the third straight Grand Slam event.
In winning her first major, Muguruza used her powerful groundstrokes to keep Williams off-balance and overcame signs of nerves in the form of nine double-faults to pull off the upset win.
Muguruza also managed to deal with Williams’ dangerous serve, breaking three consecutive times from late in the first set to early in the second en route to beating Williams for the second time in three years at Roland Garros. In 2014, she handed Williams the worst loss of her Grand Slam career with a 6-2, 6-2 victory in the second round.
After letting four match points slip away in the penultimate game, Muguruza served out the match at love, punctuated by a high lob that caught the baseline as Williams watched.
The winning shot drew a smile from Williams’ face and she applauded Muguruza, who put her face in her hands and fell on her back in the red clay of Court Philippe Chatrier as her coach Sam Sumyk jumped from his chair and raised both arms in the air.
“She has a bright future, obviously,” said Williams, who at 34 is 12 years older than her Spanish opponent. “She knows how to play on the big stage and … clearly, she knows how to win Grand Slams.”
Muguruza, who lost to Williams in the 2015 final at Wimbledon, became the first Spanish woman to win a Grand Slam title since Arantxa Sanchez Vicario won the last of her three French Open crowns in 1998.
“I can’t explain with words what this day means to me,” Muguruza said after the match. “You work all your life to get here.”
Muguruza became just the fifth different woman to defeat Williams in a Grand Slam final, joining Angelique Kerber, Samantha Stosur, Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams — who beat her sister twice.
This year’s visit to Paris hardly could have started off more inauspiciously for Muguruza: She lost the very first set she played in the tournament, against 38th-ranked Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.
But Muguruza turned things around from there. She won the next 14 sets she played, displaying the deep groundstrokes and take-the-ball-early aggressiveness that flustered Williams.
“I have grown up playing on clay,” Muguruza said during the trophy ceremony, “so for Spain, and for me, this is amazing.”