LONDON – Three quick thoughts from the 2017 Wimbledon women’s final.
• Spain’s Garbine Muguruza won the Wimbledon women’s singles title on Saturday, beating Venus Williams 7-5, 6-0 in a strange final. After 45 minutes of furious ballstriking, Venus had set points at 5-4. She didn’t convert and that was the hinge point. Muguruza staved off the set points, locked in, ran off nine (!) straight games. Fourteen years Venus’ junior, Muguruza played with a superior level of freshness, power and poise.
Muguruza reached the final here two years ago and played gamely against Serena. She then retreated, only to reach the 2016 French Open final where she stormed past Serena. She retreated again, filing to win a title of any size over the last 13 months. She comes here with little momentum and wins seven matches. Say this: Muguruza sure peaks at the right time. Let’s hope she sustains it because if so, she could be a star for a long time.
• If you’re Venus Williams you are….well, what? Pleased that at age 37 you have reached another major final, you’re second this one this year alone. You are also pleased that you managed put a difficult situation behind you and won six matches. You will be a contender—and fan favorite—at the U.S. Open. Yet this loss will sting. Without Serena in the draw—the player who’s beaten you in seven major finals—you had a gaping opportunity for another big prize. And after playing so well for the first 45 minutes, you capitulated. A 6-0 final set is not acceptable. Venus went 17 games without a break of serve. On Saturday, at 5-5, she was broken four straight times.
• Well, three of the four majors are in the proverbial book and women’s tennis is in a weird—yet oddly intoxicating—place. The sport’s alpha female (Serena Williams) is profoundly pregnant, hasn’t played since winning the Australian Open and almost certainly won’t play again this year. The player who started the year at No. 1 (Angie Kerber) has been a non-entity. The new No. 1 (Karolina Pliskova) just lost with a whimper in the second round here. One multi-time major champ (Maria Sharapova) has been idled by a doping suspension and then injury. Another (Petra Kvitova) is coming back from a stabbing suffered in a home invasion.
And who has risen highest? A bold 20-year-old, Jelena Ostapenko, who was outside the top 40 memorial and is now inside the top ten. Venus Williams, who has been to two of the three major finals. And Garbine Muguruza, now a multi-Slam winner.
This story originally appeared on SI.com.