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Experience not necessarily an advantage for Venus Williams

The Wimbledon women's final between Venus Williams and Garbine Muguruza constitutes a head-on collision of powerful WTA themes larger than either player. There's the startling continued efficiency of players older than 30, and the ongoing push by a new, younger generation to reshape the face of the game.

Garbine Muguruza was just 3 years of age when Venus Williams, now 37, appeared in her first Grand Slam final. Now, the pair will do battle on the heels of the 2017 French Open, whose champion -- Jelena Ostapenko -- wasn't even born when Williams began her professional career.

On Saturday, Venus Williams will be playing her 16th major final and second of the season. AP Photo/Alastair Grant
You can hear the tectonic plates of the game grinding ever louder.

However, Muguruza is by no means an ingenue. At 23, she has not only won a major already (French Open, 2016) but also met a Williams sister in a Wimbledon final.

That was Serena in 2015, and it didn't work out so well for Muguruza. As she said in her last news conference, however, she has been working hard to get back to a Slam final.

Muguruza added former Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez to her team for this tournament. "I think a lot of things are clicking also with her and the team this week, so it's very nice," Muguruza said with regard to Martinez's presence.

No matter how well-prepared Muguruza is, Williams will show her youthful opponent things she hasn't seen much of during her ride to the finals. These include blazing aces, second serves traveling well over 100 mph and vicious forehand swinging volleys.

As Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams' coach and an ESPN commentator at Wimbledon, observed on air: "[Venus] has to move Garbine out of her comfort zone, make her run and hit on the move. She can do that because the pace of her shot is something Garbine [isn't] used to."

Williams has done great work with both her forehand and second serve at Wimbledon. At times in the past, it looked as though Williams' technique on her groundstrokes was sloppy and imprecise. This fortnight, those shots have looked as disciplined as military units.

Williams has great momentum, but a look at the cold, hard statistics suggests this will be a compelling race to the trophy. Williams has tagged 143 winners this fortnight, just two more than Muguruza; that's 23 per match for both. Meanwhile, each woman has been charged with just 105 unforced errors (17.6 per match).

The interesting detail: One match disproportionately impacted the otherwise low error count for both women. Muguruza had 50 in her pivotal fourth-round win over top-seeded Angelique Kerber. Williams compiled 33 in her second-round tussle with Qiang Wang. The takeaway: The finalists did nothing to modulate their aggressive instincts in challenging matches with excellent defenders.

The women have had comparable success in the key second-serve-points-won and first-serve-conversion categories. Muguruza is at 55.6 and 66.8 percent, respectively; Williams is right at her elbow, winning 52.1 percent of her second serves and putting 65.8 percent of her first serves in play.

Despite the nearly identical first-serve-conversion rates, Williams has won 80 percent of her first-serve points, more than 7 percentage points better than Muguruza. That's a testament to Williams' serve and how she backs it up. It's a distinct advantage for Williams, but your eyes could have told you that just by watching her.

Emotionally, Muguruza is on an upswing. This is a champion who just lost her French Open title. Williams is her serene, measured self, but it must have been subconsciously liberating not to have her sister in the draw. Venus has been beaten by Serena in seven of the eight Grand Slam finals they've played against each other.

Still, big sister misses kid sister.

"I missed Serena so much especially before this match," Williams told reporters after winning her semi. "I wish she could be here with me, but I guess I'll have to do it on my own."

Well, somebody from the over-30s club has to represent if the younger generation is to be kept at bay.

Source: http://www.espn.com/tennis/story/_/id/20038319/wimbledon-experience-not-necessarily-advantage-venus-williams-garbine-muguruza

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