Thursday 14 November 2019

Williams aims to exploit gulf in experience

Spain’s Garbine Muguruza. Photo: Reuters/Alastair Grant
Spain’s Garbine Muguruza. Photo: Reuters/Alastair Grant Sportsdesk

In 1997, when Venus Williams made her Wimbledon debut, a three-year-old girl in Venezuela picked up a tennis racquet for the first time.

Twenty years later Williams is still here, preparing to play in her ninth Wimbledon final. Her opponent on today will be Garbine Muguruza, that same person who first learned to play the game when growing up in Caracas.

Muguruza, who has a Venezuelan mother and a Spanish father but eventually opted to represent Spain after the family moved to Europe when she was six, has won only three titles in her life, though the world No 15 is clearly a player for the big occasion. One of those titles was last year's French Open and this will be her second Wimbledon final after her defeat to Williams' sister, Serena, two years ago.

The gulf in experience between today's finalists is huge. This will be Williams' 16th Grand Slam singles final and her 82nd at tour level. Muguruza has won 14 of the 18 matches she has played at Wimbledon while Williams has won 87 out of 101, a total bettered only by Martina Navratilova (120 wins) and Chris Evert (96). At the age of 37 years and 28 days Williams is attempting to become the oldest women's champion since Charlotte Sterry won in 1908 at the age of 37 years and 282 days.

Williams said she had always believed in herself. "It's just about betting on myself every time," she said. "When I look across the net, I don't think it's the right mentality to believe in that person more than me. It doesn't mean that I've won every time, but I've tried to give myself the best chance."

Muguruza, meanwhile, struggled in the wake of both her previous Grand Slam finals. After 2015 she played in only two more finals before winning last summer's French Open. However, the 23-year-old believes she has learned from both finals. "That [Wimbledon] final helped me a lot to figure out how to play better on grass," she said.

Wimbledon Women's Final,

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