Garbine Muguruza beats Venus Williams to win Wimbledon title
LONDON -- Garbine Muguruza wasn't going to be derailed by a Williams sister in a Wimbledon final. Not this time.
The Spaniard overcame two set points by Venus Williams to rally and win the first set en route to a 7-5, 6-0 victory over the 37-year-old American, who was bidding to become the oldest woman in the Open era to win a Grand Slam title.
Williams twice was a point away from winning the opening set, ahead 5-4 while Muguruza served at 15-40. On the first set point, a 20-stroke exchange ended when Williams blinked first, putting a forehand into the net. On the second, Williams sent a return long, and Muguruza pumped her fist.
Muguruza, who lost to Serena Williams in the 2015 Wimbledon final, rode that momentum all the way to the championship without losing another game, breaking Venus' serve three times in the second set as part of a nine-game run.
It ended when Williams hit a shot that landed long but was ruled in. Muguruza challenged the call, and after a bit of a delay, the review showed the ball was, indeed, out. Made to wait to celebrate, Muguruza eventually could enjoy the moment, dropping to her knees and covering her face as tears arrived.
"When I was a little girl, I was watching these finals," said the 23-year-old Muguruza. "I was watching Venus -- I know it sounds incredible. To be able to play against her and now hold the big trophy, it means a lot."
It was as if getting out of that jam freed up Muguruza -- and failing to capitalize on the opportunity deflated the 10th-seeded Williams.
Williams began faltering, spraying her shots to unintended spots -- long, wide, into the net -- while the younger, less-experienced Muguruza stayed steady, pounding groundstrokes with all her force. Williams finished with 25 unforced errors to Muguruza's 11.
"She just dug in there and managed to play better," Williams said. "She played really well. I mean, she played top tennis, so I have to give her credit for just playing a better match. ...
"I've been in a position a lot of times this year to contend for big titles. That's the kind of position I want to keep putting myself in. It's just about getting over the line. I believe I can do that."
It was the first time Williams, playing in a 20th Wimbledon, had ever lost a set 6-0 at the All England Club. She hit just 17 winners in the match and was 0-for-3 on break-point opportunities.
Muguruza, meanwhile, converted on four service breaks against Williams, who entered the final having won 12 consecutive service games.
Soon enough, Muguruza was being shown her name on the list of champions in the stadium's lobby -- "Finally!" she said -- and being greeted by former King Juan Carlos of Spain.
The match was played under a closed roof on Centre Court, the first time a women's final had been played indoors.
The 14th-seeded Muguruza, who beat Serena to win the 2016 French Open, is now the first player to beat both Williams sisters in a Grand Slam final.
"I only play against the Williams sisters. It's incredible," Muguruza said. "I like it. It's the best final you can get -- Serena or Venus. And to play [Venus] here ... she has won five times, she's an expert.
"I don't know. Finally a Spanish girl can play on grass."
Muguruza, playing at Wimbledon for a fifth time, dropped the least number of games at this year's tournament, losing only 44 during the fortnight.
She is the second Spanish woman to win Wimbledon, joining her coach, Conchita Martinez, who beat a 37-year-old Martina Navratilova in 1994.
It was an anticlimactic conclusion for Williams, who was the oldest Wimbledon finalist since 1994. Diagnosed in 2011 with Sjogren's syndrome, an energy-sapping autoimmune disease, she learned to deal with that condition by turning to a plant-based diet and altering other routines. It took a while for her to get back to her best tennis.
Her resurgence began in earnest at Wimbledon a year ago, when she made it to the semifinals. Then, at the Australian Open in January, Williams reached the final, where she lost to her sister.
Venus was playing in her ninth Wimbledon singles final, having won five -- in 2000, '01, '05, '07 and '08. She has an overall singles record of 87-15 at Wimbledon.
With the runner-up prize, Venus ($37.9 million) surpassed Maria Sharapova ($36.5 million) for the No. 2 spot on the career money list. Serena is No. 1 at $84.4 million.
Serena is off the tour for the rest of this year because she is pregnant, and Venus spoke this week about missing her and wanting to put "Williams" on a trophy once again.
She came close to achieving that, but Muguruza would not allow it.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.