Pine: Muguruza fears no one after Wimbledon triumph
No more a one-hit wonder after Wimbledon triumph, Muguruza will fear no one
Before last month's Wimbledon final, the odds may have been on Venus Williams winning the title.
After all, the veteran American already had five Wimbledon titles under her belt, so she definitely knows how to close the deal on Centre Court at SW19.
On the other hand, Garbine Muguruza had not even made a Grand Slam final since her win at Roland Garros last year.
The magic and thrill of tennis is that it is never over until it is over.
With the current depth of talent on the WTA, it is truly any woman's game, and Muguruza stepped on court to prove exactly that with a convincing win over Williams in this year's final.
With that victory, Muguruza has now defeated both Williams sisters (who have a combined 30 Major titles between them) in Grand Slam finals. She had got past Serena to win the French Open title last year.
Muguruza, 23, is the only player who can lay claim to this feat.
She silenced the critics who once called her a one-hit wonderMelissa Pine, vice-president of WTA Asia-Pacific, on Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza
Growing up, the Spaniard started out as a grinder who sat at the back of the court and relied on her speed to get every ball back.
As she grew taller and stronger, she had to adapt accordingly, and developed a more aggressive style to her game.
Aside from her physical and technical strength on the court, Muguruza has now shown that she can handle pressure at the highest level.
She struggled after winning at Roland Garros last year and, even before this year's Wimbledon, she hardly impressed in the lead-up grass-court tournaments. However, it did not stop her from believing that she could win.
Williams had been playing some of her best tennis to make it to the Wimbledon final, even successfully battling past home favourite Johanna Konta, who was playing at such a high level.
However, Muguruza not only stepped up to the challenge, she also did it with so much poise and confidence that it almost looked easy for her.
She was determined to capture the title this time, having come so close when she lost to Serena in the 2015 final.
Her performance clearly showed how much more she wanted it and, after her win this year, she said, "No one remembers the one who loses in the final. It is all about winning. I thought - this one is mine".
It has been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride for Muguruza, with all the expectations thrust upon her after her French Open win last year, and having to deal with the pressure of the demands of being a Grand Slam champion.
Stepping on Centre Court at Wimbledon, quite likely as the dark horse, she dug deep to pull off her winning performance, proving she possesses the mental strength required to block out all the noise and distractions, and stay focused.
And, of course, she silenced the critics who once called her a one-hit wonder.
Muguruza has always been a favourite in Singapore at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals presented by SC Global, and we are lucky to have witnessed her growth over the years.
She qualified for the first time in 2015 for both singles and doubles, making it to the semi-final in singles, and finishing runner-up in doubles with her fellow Spaniard, Carla Suarez Navarro.
Fans love Muguruza both on and off the court and she has always been a player who raises excitement levels in her matches.
She is also an excellent role model, representing non-profit Room to Read as an ambassador, advocating global education and supporting them through raising funds for the organisation's Literacy and Girls' Education programmes.
With the hard-court season in full swing now, it will be interesting to see her movement on the Porsche Race to Singapore Leaderboard, especially as her game suits the surface so well.
She will be full of confidence heading into the US Open and will fear no one.
The clock is ticking down to the WTA Finals and, as the standings currently reflect, with Muguruza and Williams in second and fourth place respectively, there is every chance the two could lock horns again in October in Singapore.
- Melissa Pine is the vice-president of WTA Asia-Pacific and the tournament director of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. She is also a former NCAA player at Washington State University and served as assistant coach of the team post-graduation. To find out more about the WTA Finals, visit www.wtafinals.com