LONDON - Garbine Muguruza is only 23 but has already played in three Grand Slam finals and won two of them. However, after her 7-5, 6-0 victory over Venus Williams in Saturday's Wimbledon final, the Spaniard admitted that she has a love-hate relationship with her sport.
Despite her run to the final here two years ago and her triumph at last year’s French Open, Muguruza has struggled in the periods between her successes at Grand Slam level. Outside the sport’s four major events she has won only two titles in her career and appeared in just two other finals.
“People have this love-hate relationship with tennis,” Muguruza said as she reflected on her achievements. “It’s hard in defeat but it’s very nice when you win, so it’s a combination. I also feel like that. When you win everything is beautiful and when you lose everything is darker, so it’s hard.”
The Spaniard said she had struggled to cope when things have gone against her. “I am still searching for that,” she said. “It is hard because I’ve played since I was three years old and everything is tennis, tennis. I’m super-passionate about it and I love it. But I always like to cook, I like music, and I just try to be like a regular girl or woman.”
Only last month Muguruza was in tears at the French Open, where her defence of her title had ended in the fourth round, though that defeat to Kristina Mladenovic also gave her the impetus to succeed here.
“I’m human,” Muguruza said, looking back at the tears she had shed in Paris. “I felt like I had had a good tournament, even though I didn’t reach that far, but I was like: ‘I’m going to learn from this. I’ve got a whole grass-court season coming up. I feel good. I’ll forget about the French Open. Next year I’ll go out there and try to do better’.”
Muguruza did not reach a final anywhere between last year’s French Open and this year’s Wimbledon, but hopes her reaction to success will be better this time.
“People think that when you win it’s so easy, but it’s not easy to handle it,” she said. “I probably always expect myself to play so well and when it doesn’t happen it’s hard to deal with.
“But the best way is to be humble and go back to the court, starting with the hard-court season now. I’ll keep working and things will come. But I’m not going to be thinking that I’m going to play incredible in every tournament.”
Conchita Martinez, who stood in for Muguruza’s regular coach, Sam Sumyk, during his absence for personal reasons over the last fortnight, thinks that the world No 15 will cope better this time around.
“She is going to have more experience,” the 1994 Wimbledon champion said. “After a year she has won another Grand Slam. She has had ups and downs, but she already has a couple in her pocket. Hopefully she can stay a little more steady. The key is to continue routines, continue to work hard and to focus on every tournament you play.”
Martinez said that Muguruza had focused on “every point of every single match” she had played over the last fortnight here and hopes she will do the same elsewhere. “You can win big things but also the other tournaments are very important for your career too,” Martinez said.
Spain’s Fed Cup and Davis Cup captain said that her own experience in beating 37-year-old Martina Navratilova – the previous oldest Wimbledon finalist in the women’s singles - in the 1994 final had made her think Muguruza would beat Williams.
“Inside my mind there were too many coincidences: a 37-year-old opponent she had beaten on clay this year in Rome, when I had beat Martina on clay that year in Rome as well,” she said. “I was like” ‘OK, we are going to do this’.”
Martinez said she was now happy to hand the reins back to Sumyk, but Muguruza insisted: “She’s always there to help us.”
There is already talk of Muguruza as a future world No 1, but the Spaniard, who will jump 10 places in the rankings on Monday to No 5, said she was more interested in winning the biggest tournaments.
“I don’t know what it feels like to be number one, but I know what it feels like to win a Grand Slam and to win this trophy,” she said. “I’ve always dreamed of being able to win seven matches in a row. It’s something special. Hopefully I can be number one and compare the experiences.”
She added: “I don't think anyone is going to dominate so long as Serena [Williams] did. That has been just incredible. I just want to go out there in the Grand Slams and play well, and hopefully end with the trophy. It is simple but that is my goal.”
Muguruza said that winning the French Open last year had seemed a bigger achievement to her than winning here just because it had been her first Grand Slam title. However, she said that winning in Paris had not changed her life and she expected the same after her victory here.
“In two weeks’ time I’ll be playing a tournament again, so it’s not going to really change,” she said. “They said when I won the French Open that my life was going to change but it didn’t.”
Looking relaxed as she talked in a small room in the media centre at the All England Club, Muguruza was already wearing her badge as a new member.
“A man came before to give me this and I was like: 'What the hell does this mean’?” she said. “I can come here for tea now. it is incredible. I feel like I have joined an incredible, historic club. I will hopefully enjoy it in the next years. I am going to bring my pin every year.”
Great meeting the Dukes of Cambridge today the Club.
Feliz de conocer a los Diques de Cambridge. pic.twitter.com/NZRkKqr8RM