World number one, Serena Williams managed to out do Maris Sharapova to set up a Wimbledon final against Spain’s Garbine Muguruza.
And the No. 20 seed takes huge confidence from inflicting Williams’ worst-ever Grand Slam loss – 6-2 6-2 – in the French Open’s second round previous year. That loss I think I learned the most from in a long time.
Thirty-five years after Vitas Gerulaitis famously exclaimed that nobody beats him 17 times in a row, Maria Sharapova now knows how the flamboyant American felt. “Now, 11 years later, it’s happening,” Muguruza said.
That followed gutsy three-set victories over ex- world number one Victoria Azarenka and Heather Watson on either side of a straight-sets win over elder sister Venus in the fourth round.
“If you want to win a Grand Slam, when you dream, you want Serena in the final”. Knowing what was at stake, Williams was nervous yesterday against the 21-year-old Muguruza but fought back from a break down in the opening set and held off an inspired comeback from the Spaniard in the second to close out the win in one hour and 23 minutes. “I’m surprised because my two tournaments before preparation were not so good”. Asked which of her accomplishments this fortnight speaks louder to her, she said without hesitation: “For sure the Serena Slam”. It is going to be the best day of my tennis career – if I win is going to be much better.
For those who dip in and out of tennis’ 11-month season, Muguruza may be an unfamiliar name. “I could lose the final and obviously I won’t be happy”.
All very admirable – except, at 33, Williams is still No1, indisputably so, and likely to remain that way until she chooses to stop playing, unless cut down by injury, ill health or hubris.
Female athletics have risen to the forefront lately with the United States women’s soccer team winning a World Cup and Serena Williams putting together another great run at Wimbledon. Although she claims not to be superstitious, she has come so far in the competition without her family being here and has told her mum and dad in no uncertain times they are not welcome on Centre Court today.
“I don’t think she [Muguruza] can beat Serena in the final”, Radwanska said.
“I think sometimes you definitely need them or you’re not feeling your game, or you feel like you’re not necessarily playing your best tennis”.
“Every time I step out on court, the practice court, the match court, I do look at it as a more fun time because it’s not as stressful as it was”.
Williams, on the other hand, was simply thrilled to reach the finals for the 8th time in her career. I’ve won so many Grand Slam titles.
Against Radwanska, Muguruza demonstrated power, vulnerability and vast reserves of character that should make her the people’s favourite against the all-conquering Williams.
The 28-year-old rapper has been sitting in Williams’ box at Wimbledon in England and has attended nearly all her matches.
German ace Steffi Graf was the last player to complete an authentic calendar Grand Slam – back in 1988. “I was so desperate to do it. After that, I’m just enjoying myself”.