Before Wimbledon began, there was guaranteed to be a new winner. Two-time defending champion Serena Williams was unable to defend her title due to pregnancy. Nonetheless, there was plenty of opportunities for someone to take advantage of the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion's absence.
Last year's French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza has found the form, which took her to her first Grand Slam final right here at Wimbledon two years ago. The Spaniard has dropped out of the top ten, and she is currently ranked at 15 after she failed to defend her French Open title. Nevertheless, that could have been the best thing that happened to Muguruza as she has played fearless tennis at Wimbledon. Muguruza's compatriot and Fed Cup captain Conchita Martinez has stepped in for Sam Sumyk, who is absent from this year's event for personal reasons.
Furthermore, Martinez has been a good help to Muguruza as Martinez won Wimbledon in 1994 against nine-time winner Martina Navratilova. Ironically, Navratilova was 37 and she had American citizenship. Bizarrely, it's a similar situation to what Muguruza is in. She will play Venus Williams in the final, who is American and 37. The former world number two is also bidding to become the first Spanish winner at Wimbledon since Martinez.
The five-time Wimbledon champion has done remarkably well to reach the final at Wimbledon for the ninth time in her career. The former world number one has dealt with off-court issues, which could have had an impact on her during this tournament. Nonetheless, Williams will be competing in multiple Grand Slam finals in the same year for the first time since 2003. She reached her first Grand Slam final since reaching the final at Wimbledon in 2009 at the Australian Open when she lost to her sister Serena. Williams will be competing in her 16th Grand Slam singles final, and she will be hoping to win her eighth Grand Slam title at Wimbledon.
Her last Grand Slam triumph was at SW19 in 2008. Many had written the American off as she suffers from Sjogren's syndrome, diagnosed back in 2011 but she is one of the in-form players at Grand Slams as she has reached the second week at the last six Slams in a row. During that run, she has reached two Slam finals and a semifinal, which is a phenomenal achievement for the seven-time Grand Slam singles champion.
Williams has a good record in finals at SW19 as she has a 5-3 win-loss record. She lost to her sister Serena in 2002, 2003 and 2009 but she beat compatriot Lindsay Davenport in 2000 and 2005, Justine Henin in 2001, 2013 champion Marion Bartoli in 2007 and Serena in 2008.
Muguruza's route to the final
The 23-year-old has been in remarkable form at this year's Wimbledon. The Spaniard has only dropped one set en route to her third Grand Slam final in three years. Muguruza defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova in her first round match, and she sent Yanina Wickmayer packing in the second round. The former world number two was up against Sorana Cirstea in the third round, which was their second Grand Slam meeting this year. The 14th seed sent the Romanian out of the tournament with ease. However, Muguruza's fourth round clash with last year's runner-up and world number one Angelique Kerber was arguably one of the best matches in the whole tournament.
The Spaniard recovered from a set and a break down in the final set and ousted the two-time Grand Slam champion for the second time in three years at Wimbledon. In the quarterfinals, Muguruza was too good for two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova. The former French Open champion thrashed Magdalena Rybarikova, 6-1, 6-1 and she advanced to her second Wimbledon final in three years.
Williams' route to the final
Like Muguruza, the five-time Wimbledon champion has lost a solitary set en route to her ninth Wimbledon final. The American defeated Elise Mertens in the first round, and she beat the Belgian in their third round clash at the French Open. However, Williams had to fight back to avoid an early exit in the second round against Qiang Wang. She dispatched the Chinese player in three sets. Moreover, Williams' next three opponents were 19 and 20. The American sent Naomi Osaka packing in straight sets in the third round, and she sent 27th seed Ana Konjuh out of the tournament in the fourth round.
In the quarterfinals, Williams ended the 11-match winning streak at Grand Slams for Muguruza's successor, the new French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko. The 10th seed crucially saved two break points at 4-4, 15-40 in her semifinal clash with Britain's sixth seed Johanna Konta. Saving those break points was a turning point in the match as Williams would break in the next game, and reel off eight of the next ten games to book her place in a 16th Grand Slam singles final.
The two Grand Slam champions have met on four occasions, and the former world number one leads their head-to-head 3-1. Their first three encounters took place on hard courts which Williams have claimed. The 10th seed won their first meeting in Florianopolis in 2013. The American won their second clash in the quarterfinals in Auckland in 2014 in straight sets. Unfortunately, Muguruza was unable to carry on in their meeting in the final of Wuhan in 2015 as she retired after losing the first set 6-3. Muguruza finally gained her first victory over Williams in their quarterfinal encounter in Rome this year. It was a three-set thriller on the Spaniard's preferred surface on clay.
Who lifts the Venus Rosewater Dish?
Winning the first set in tomorrow's final will be crucial as the last four successive Wimbledon finals have ended in straight sets. In fact, in this decade, the only Wimbledon final to go the distance was the 2012 final between Serena Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska. Nevertheless, both players will not be afraid to go for their shots in this final. The five-time Wimbledon champion will need to utilize the body serve, which she used to perfection against Konta in the semifinals. Muguruza has the height to return Williams' first serves, and the American's second serve is attackable, which the Spaniard will be looking to stand inside the baseline, and take the ball early.
However, the 14th seed's backhand side is stronger than her forehand side, and the seven-time Grand Slam singles champion will be looking to attack the forehand side of Muguruza. Both players will be looking to dictate play from the baseline, and apply continuous pressure to their opponents.
The final on Centre Court will take place at 2pm local time. Williams and Roger Federer will both contest this year's final in the ladies' and gentlemen's singles this year. Should both of them be victorious in their respective finals it will be the third time after 2005 and 2007 that they have managed to win Wimbledon in the same year.
It will be Muguruza's third Grand Slam final and third against a Williams sister. She lost to Venus' sister Serena two years ago in her first final but she gained her revenge in the French Open final last year. The semifinals were one-sided and the British crowd will be hoping that this final will be competitive. Both players have the credentials to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish but there may be more disappointment for Muguruza. Expect Williams to come through a tough battle, and return to the top four for the first time in six years.
Prediction: Williams in three sets