Stage set for Garbine to shine
Muguruza has the qualities to fill the void left by Serena Williams
They ran from their seats to line the carpet leading to the stage at the Marina Bay Sands' Grand Ballroom, just as her name was announced.
And fans of Garbine Muguruza were not disappointed.
Spotlights seemed to caress the Wimbledon champion as curtains parted to reveal a beaming smile.
The 24-year-old owned the WTA's purple carpet, and seemed to glide - princess-like - towards the stage.
She rose briefly to the pinnacle of women's tennis this year, and comes to the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global as the event's second seed.
She appeared to have everything women's tennis needs to fill the Serena Williams-shaped void in the sport: power, the ability to rise to the occasion and win on the big stage - on both grass and clay - and she is shimmering with star quality.
But the Spaniard has a lot to do, and she needs to start right here in Singapore.
"It's very special to be No. 1, every player dreams to be No. 1, and it is one thing I can cross off my list," she said ahead of the singles draw.
Since the advent of computerised rankings in 1975, 25 women have climbed to the summit, but only 12 have finished the season on top.
It's very special to be No. 1, every player dreams to be No. 1, and it is one thing I can cross off my list. Garbine Muguruza
And Muguruza will have to take that step to assert her spot as Williams' heir apparent.
But it will not be easy here. Five different women have held the top spot this year alone, and seven of the eight women here in Singapore can steal that year-end crown.
The other Williams sister, Venus, is here, and she is gunning for it - albeit somewhat quietly.
"I'm ready. I felt like I was going to be here (in Singapore), and here I am. It's going to be exciting, each player is difficult," she said of the challenge ahead.
"(The year-end No.1 spot) is not really on my mind… that would be nice, but you've got to earn it. A number of players can get that, and I wish it was me.
"If you win (the tournament) then you get it," said the 37-year-old, on just what it will take to earn that coveted crown.
Maybe they were all being polite, but it appeared that no one wants to outrighly stake their claim for that spot.
Karolina Pliskova, another player who has had held the No.1 ranking, for eight weeks this year, does not appear to be very concerned with it.
"Not much really," she said of the year-end spot. "I was already there, so it's not much of a goal for me, but it would be nice."
It will definitely be tough.
Pliskova is grouped with Muguruza, Williams and Jelena Ostapenko in the white group. Meanwhile, top seed Simona Halep heads the red group, alongside Elina Svitolina, Caroline Wozniacki and Caroline Garcia.
Halep currently holds the top spot in women's tennis, and even she is looking to enjoy the ride rather than cement her position.
"(Being No.) 1 is my dream come true, but you don't want to stress yourself too much," she said.
But Halep has another dream - unlike Muguruza, she has not won a Grand Slam.
"I'm motivated everyday, to work to get stronger, to get better. My dream is to get a Grand Slam," she said.
"Everyone can be top, everyone can win a Slam." she said.
On ending the year as No. 1, she said: "I'd like that - but let's see."
The tournament proper starts tomorrow, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
WTA FINAL DRAW
- Simona Halep (x1), Elina Svitolina (x4), Caroline Wozniacki (x6), Caroline Garcia (x8)
- Garbine Muguruza (x2), Karolina Pliskova (x3), Venus Williams (x5), Jelena Ostapenko (x7)