LONDON, Great Britain - A year after her French Open triumph, Garbiñe Muguruza completed an emphatic fortnight with a 7-5, 6-0 win over former World No.1 Venus Williams to take home her second Grand Slam title at Wimbledon.
"I always come very motivated to the Grand Slams," Muguruza said in her post-victory press conference. "Since I lost the final here, I wanted to change that. I came thinking, 'I'm prepared, I feel good.' During the tournament and the matches, I was feeling better and better. Every match, I was increasing my level.
"I think today, I played well."
Seeded No.14 but set to return to the Top 5 following Saturday's victory, Muguruza saved a pair of set points late in the opening set before running away with the match, winning the final nine games and clinching victory after 77 minutes under the Centre Court roof.
Muguruza made her first major final at the All England Club back in 2015, narrowly losing to Venus' sister and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena, and avenged that loss less than a year later to win in Paris.
The next 12 months were tougher for the Spaniard, but arrived to SW19 playing phenomenal tennis from first ball, not dropping a set to reach the second week.
Winning a thrilling three-setter against top seed Angelique Kerber saw an even more impressive Muguruza through the final three rounds, not dropping serve to either Svetlana Kuznetsova or surprise semifinalist Magdalena Rybarikova en route to the championship match against Venus.
"I never know how it's going to go because I was very nervous, and tense. I wanted it to go my way. I was doing everything I could to be prepared.
"Once you step on the court, you see the crowd, you see the final, you see I'm here playing another Wimbledon final. So I'm very satisfied the way I handled it."
Venus has been looking equally dangerous throughout the fortnight, snapping Roland Garros champ Jelena Ostapenko's 11-match Grand Slam winning streak and putting in her best performance to beat British No.1 Johanna Konta in the semifinals.
It was the largest age gap between two finalists since 1994, when 22-year-old Conchita Martinez shocked 37-year-old Martina Navratilova for her first and only major title. In an odd moment of symmetry, Martinez had been coaching the 23-year-old Muguruza through the tournament, and was in the box as she took on 37-year-old Venus.
"I liked Conchita to be on my team because I have a great relation with her. We were very excited about the coincidence of her winning Navratilova, me winning Venus, there were a lot of things there that were, like, awesome."
The battle of big hitters went on as scheduled despite the rainy forecast, and the pair traded powerful shot from the back of the court. Muguruza saved a break point in the sixth game and shook off missed opportunities in the seventh as Venus continued her dialed in serving performance, having only lost serve once in the second week.
"I was expecting the best Venus, because I saw her, and she was playing very good. I knew she was going to, make me suffer and fight for it."
Serving at 4-5, Muguruza fended off both set points with aggressive tennis, using her serve and forehand to get out of trouble and ultimately turn the match around, breaking in the next game and never looking back.
"When I had those set points against me, I'm like, 'Hey, it's normal. I'm playing Venus here.' So I just kept fighting, and I knew that if I was playing like I was playing during the two weeks, I was going to have eventually an opportunity.
"I was calm. Even If I lost the first set, I'd still have two more. Let's not make a drama, you know."
In all, she hit 14 winners to 11 unforced errors; Venus was more aggressive to start, hitting 12 winners in the first set alone, but only managed five in the second, and struck 25 unforced errors for the match.
"Every tournament's different," Venus said after the match. "This is most certainly a very different tournament. "It took a lot of effort and what have you to get right here today. So this is where I want to be every single major.
"She played top tennis, so I have to give her credit for just playing a better match. I've had a great two weeks. I'm looking forward to the rest of the summer."
The now two-time major champion also moves up to No.3 on the Porsche Race to Singapore leaderboard after being outside the Top 8 at the start of the tournament; Muguruza is aiming to qualify for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global for a third straight year.
"It's not easy," Muguruza said of being a Grand Slam champion. "It's very good when you win it, and it's hard after when you come back and you know you have to defend it. But that's a good problem to have.
"It was tough obviously, because you know you have a lot of matches to go. You wanted the trophy back.
"But I'm happy to be in this situation. I'm happy that once again I see myself winning a Grand Slam, something that is so hard to do. It means a lot. It means a lot of confidence."
This article was first seen on www.wtatennis.com.