Tennis star Garbiñe Muguruza has become the first Spaniard to win the WTA Finals. The 28-year-old defeated Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit in straight sets (6-3, 7-5), winning the game in 99 minutes.
“This has been a very mental duel,” said Muguruza after her win. “I started the tournament feeling so so. I told myself, ‘this is going to be difficult,’ but, look, in the end, I stayed strong.”
The WTA Finals took place in the Mexican city of Guadalajara, which is 1,566 meters above sea level. The event was meant to be hosted in Shenzhen, China in 2020, but was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. In a record three months, the Panamerican Tennis Center in Zapopan was renovated in order to hold the WTA Finals, which is a tournament of the Women’s Tennis Association.
“I don’t know what this country has that makes me so excited!” said Muguruza, who was celebrated with cries of “Mu-gu! Mu-gu! Mu-gu!” The 28-year-old described the experience of winning in Mexico – where she also won the Monterrey Open in 2018 and 2019 – as a “magnificent feeling.” “Today I am going to drink tequila!” she added.
The Venezuela-born champion’s path to the final started off bumpy with a defeat in the opening match to Karolína Plíšková. She bounced back to defeat Barbora Krejčíková in the second round, won against Kontaveit – a win she needed to proceed to the semifinals – then was victorious against fellow Spaniard Paula Badosa.
The final also had its tense moments: just when Muguruza was at the brink of victory, Kontaveit fought back. But in the end, the Spaniard, noticeably more comfortable on court, was victorious.
As she accepted her runner-up award, Kontaveit – who came into the tournament with a 12-match winning streak – told Muguruza: “You’ve beaten me twice this week, that’s just too good.”
Thanks to the win, Muguruza is expected to end the year ranked number three in the world.
“The truth is I was expecting a very difficult match. A WTA final in Mexico was very emotional for me. Having it on my resumé is something I can cross off the list,” said Muguruza.
The 28-year-old already has an impressive list of accomplishments to her name: two grand slam tournament titles (2016 French Open and 2017 Wimbledon Championships), runner-up in another two grand slams (2015 Wimbledon Championships and 2020 Australian Open), and being ranked number one.
But her career has seen its ups and downs, with injuries affecting her game. She did not make it into the quarterfinals of any grand slam this year and has not stepped onto a podium since July 2018. The powerful player, however, has bounced back and now joins an illustrious group of WTA Finals champions: Monica Seles, Steffi Graf, Maria Sharapova and Martina Hingis. Spaniard Arantxa Sánchez Vicario came close to taking home the title in 1993, but lost the final to Graf.
With this win, Muguruza has shown that she is back in the game. “I have shown myself again that I can be the best,” she said.