Muguruza earned it by fighting off two set points in the first set, an intense, huge-hitting, corner-to-corner duel in which the grunts from the players and the applause from the spectators reverberated off the closed Centre Court roof.
But after fending off those two set points at 4-5, Muguruza took complete control. She reeled off nine straight games to close out the victory as Williams’s forehand and defenses continued to crack.
The first set required 51 minutes to complete; the second just 26, and Muguruza finished it off by using technology that was not available when Williams won her first Wimbledon singles title in 2000.
On her third match point at 5-0, Muguruza successfully challenged a call on a shot from Williams that landed near the baseline. When the electronic replay confirmed that the ball had been out, Muguruza dropped her racket, sank to her knees, covered her face with both hands and began to cry before regaining her feet and walking forward to exchange an embrace with Williams, who was waiting at the net.
There would be many more embraces to come after Muguruza walked off Centre Court as the new champion.
She is the first Spanish woman to win the Wimbledon singles title since Conchita Martínez in 1994, and like Martínez, she had to beat a 37-year-old enduring icon to achieve it.
Martínezdefeated Martina Navratilova in the 1994 final, and she also played a significant role in this victory by helping to coach Muguruza in the absence of her regular coach, Sam Sumyk, who missed Wimbledon because of the pregnancy of his wife, Meilen Tu.
“Well, I think I’m here because I’ve done a hard work before,” Muguruza said on the eve of the final of Martínez’s influence. “The magic doesn’t happen just because somebody comes in, and all of a sudden you are incredible. I think she’s helping me how to deal with the tournament, because obviously it’s a Grand Slam, and it’s difficult to handle because it’s two weeks. She has experience.”
Sumyk and Martínez consulted regularly during the tournament, but Martínez was the one sitting in the players box on Centre Court on Saturday, shouting encouragement as Muguruza played in her third Grand Slam singles final.
She lost to Venus Williams’s younger sister Serena in the 2015 Wimbledon final, then upset Serena Williams in last year’s French Open final, generating expectations that she would continue to climb the rankings and be a consistent contender for the game’s major trophies.
Instead, she went into an extended slump, failing to reach another final at any tournament until her run at Wimbledon this year.
She is now a two-time Grand Slam singles champion and will be back at No. 5 in the WTA rankings on Monday.
Venus Williams will be back in the top 10 at No. 9 and is in the midst of the strongest season of her late-career phase.
She lost the Australian Open final in January to Serena Williams, who was pregnant with her first child and has not played competitively since then. But she and Venus Williams have been in regular contact during Wimbledon, and Serena Williams, a seven-time singles champion here, offered encouragement and tactical advice before the match against Muguruza.
After defeating six younger women, however, Venus Williams did not have the staying power or the solutions to get past the seventh.
Williams, as she so often is, was gracious in defeat. “I know how hard you work, and I’m sure this means so much to you and your family,” she said to Muguruza during the trophy ceremony. “So well done today. Beautiful.”
Victory would have meant a great deal to Williams, as well. This was her 20th Wimbledon. She last won a singles title here in 2008, and three years later she announced that she had Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder.
The condition sapped her energy, forced her to alter her diet and curtail her training. But it did not curtail her desire to continue competing at the highest level even when she failed to advance past the fourth round in singles at any major tournament in 2011, 2012, 2013 or 2014.
She endured deep frustrations and retirement questions but continued to maintain that she still had the talent and temperament to contend for the biggest titles.
This season, she is the only woman to have played in two Grand Slam singles finals, but she is still chasing another Grand Slam title.
Muguruza has now won two in two years: beating a Williams in straight sets in both finals.
Asked on court if she had a message for her absent sister Serena Williams responded: “Oh I miss you. I tried my best to do the same things you do, but I think that there will be other opportunities. I do.”
That is certainly possible, but it is far from a sure thing with younger talent rising. Muguruza has now won two major singles titles in two years — beating a Williams in straight sets in each final.
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