Serena Williams taking a break from tennis to have a child left many questioning who would take her place as the best in the women’s game. Serena won the Australian Open in January and then began her break and many saw a prime opportunity for someone to seize the chance to be the new dominant force in women’s tennis.
In the run up to Wimbledon, Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, came out of nowhere to emerge victorious in the French Open. Many felt that Germany’s Angelique Kerber could reign supreme in Serena Williams’ absence but she lost out in the French Open to Garbine Muguruza and it was Muguruza who would go on to be victorious at Wimbledon.
Muguruza had been going from strength to strength and was in great form at the All England Club, racking up some impressive victories on route to the final. She dispatched Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova as well as Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova, before meeting Venus Williams, Serena’s older sister, in a final showdown.
37 year old Venus simply couldn’t cope with Muguruza, 14 years her junior, as she won in straight sets in a performance that served up precision, power and poise. The whole world witnessed potentially the beginning of a new era with Muguruza in truly magnificent form from start to finish.
Britain’s Heather Watson was eliminated in the third round by Belerusian Victoria Azarenka and it left Britain’s hopes resting on the shoulders of Johanna Konta, and she certainly did not disappoint. Romanian Simona Halep for many was the pre-tournament favourite heading into the competition but the Brit beat her 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, to become the first British woman to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals since Virginia Wade back in 1978.
Konta lost out to eventual runner-up Venus Williams in the semi-finals, losing in straight sets 6-4, 6-2. The Britain’s run to the semis certainly lifted the crowd and confirmed to many that Konta has all the makings of a future Grand Slam champion.
A major shock of the tournament came when third seed, Karolina Pliskova, found herself crashing out of the competition after losing 6-3, 5-7, 2-6 to world number 87 Magdalena Rybarikova. Rybarikova’s highest ranking had come in 2013 when she peaked at No.31 but she had missed the remainder of the 2016 season, after a first round exit at last year’s competition, due to surgery on both her left wrist and right knee.
So with Serena Williams as she prepared for the birth of her first child and Maria Sharapova nursing a thigh injury, it was an open contest for someone to steal the headlines and win the crown. The likes on Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova were fancied by some but it was Garbine Muguruza who stole the show and deservedly so.
Muguruza now has the opportunity to go on and assert herself as the dominant force in the division, especially during the absence of the likes of Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. By the time Serena returns, Muguruza could be the new queen of women’s tennis.