Let’s go back to the year 2016. It’s May in France and all the women of the WTA tour are preparing for the 2nd Major of the year. You have a slew of contenders, #1 seed Serena Williams, Agnieszka Radwanska, Angelique Kerber, and others. Enter Garbiñe Muguruza, Muguruza entered the tournament as the #4 seed and was a finalist at Wimbledon just a year prior. Muguruza’s first-round match was a three-set win over the Slovakian player, Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.
After that match, Muguruza didn’t lose a set en route to the finals. She would meet Serena Williams in the French Open final, a rematch of the Wimbledon final a year ago. Serena won in straight sets at Wimbledon and this match on this day was a straight-set victory but it was a victory for Muguruza. Garbiñe Muguruza had just won her 1st Major title. Defeating Serena Williams in a final is as impressive a win as you can have.
Second Major and World #1
It’s 2017, we walk through the gates of The All-England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club. The players were in their whites looking to win one of the most prestigious titles in sports. Serena was not here due to her pregnancy but her sister Venus was. Muguruza reached the final yet again only dropping a set (4th round to Kerber). Here we are again, another Grand Slam final between a player named Williams and Muguruza. Another straight-set victory as Garbiñe Muguruza had just won her 2nd major title. A few months later in September, she would be the #1 player in the world. After that major win, Muguruza would begin the steady decline that no one, not even she saw coming. At the end of 2017, she ultimately lost the #1 ranking. In 2018 the decline continued as she ended the year at a ranking of #18.
A Slow Decline
The 2019 season wasn’t exactly the turnaround Muguruza was hoping for. She did advance to the round of 16 at the French Open but was defeated by American Sloane Stephens. The final two Majors of the year were worse than that. Losses in the first round of both Wimbledon and the US Open. Muguruza ended her season short in November and finished ranked 36 in the world. It seemed that the two-time Grand Slam champion was further away from another major final appearance than ever before. Muguruza entered the 2020 Australian Open unseeded and her draw didn’t look favorable. A potential matchup with number 5 seed Elina Svitolina was waiting for her in the 3rd round. That match came and went with a 6-1 6-2 victory for Muguruza.
A Major Turn-Around
Things seemed to be turning around for her as she made the semifinals, taking on Simona Halep. A tough battle between both women but in the end, Muguruza would advance to her 4th major final, taking on American Sofia Kenin. Muguruza did win the 1st set but ultimately lost in 3 sets. The 2020 season was affected due to the Covid-19 pandemic so tennis looked a little different. There was no Wimbledon so Garbiñe set her sights on the US Open in New York. Another disappointing Grand Slam appearance as she was defeated in the 2nd round and finished the year ranked 15. Muguruza looked to continue where she left off in Australia, making the final a year prior. Muguruza did make the 4th round but ultimately lost to eventual champion Naomi Osaka.
French Open Falter
Her performance in Dubai was a bright spot for her that year as she defeated Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka, and Elise Mertens to reach the final. In the final, she defeated Barbora Krejcikova in straight sets. It was Muguruza’s biggest title win since Cincinnati in 2017 and her first title since Monterrey in 2019. Her performance at the 2021 French Open is one she would like to forget about. She was bounced in the first round to Marta Kostyuk in straight sets. In that straight-set loss, Muguruza committed 40 unforced errors.