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Garbine Muguruza happy to represent Spain in Wimbledon final

LONDON -- Garbine Muguruza wasn't even a year old when Conchita Martinez defeated a 37-year-old Martina Navratilova to become the first Spanish woman to win Wimbledon.

Twenty-three years later, Muguruza will get her second bite to finally end Spain's long wait for a second female champion. On Saturday, when she walks onto the Centre Court grass and past the famous Rosewater dish, adorned with its many mythological figures, there will be a familiar face looking on from her box.

Garbine Muguruza is in a Wimbledon final for the second time. Cynthia Lum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Martinez, Spain's Fed Cup captain, has been Muguruza's temporary coach and adviser in London, and her presence is helping piece things together again. Just last month, Muguruza left her press conference at Roland Garros in tears after relinquishing the crown she had won a year earlier.

The pain did not last. Muguruza is into her second Wimbledon final. She was runner-up to Serena Williams here two years ago. Now the woman standing between Muguruza and a second major title is another Williams, five-time Wimbledon champion Venus, who, at 37, is the oldest Grand Slam finalist since Navratilova, also 37, beat Martinez in that 1994 final.

Muguruza, by her own admission, has not made drastic changes to her game and remains adamant that hard work is the key to her revival.

Martinez, 45, is filling a void left by Muguruza's regular coach Sam Sumyk, who is at home with his wife expecting a baby. Martinez and Sumyk, though, are very well acquainted -- the Frenchman often accompanies Muguruza to Fed Cup matches -- and all three have been in constant contact as the tournament has progressed.

Muguruza said it herself after her semifinal beating of unseeded Magdalena Rybarikova on Thursday.

"She's helping me to deal with the stress of the tournament, because it's a long tournament," Muguruza said. "She just knows how to prepare, how to train, what to do.

"To have her by my side gives me this little confidence of having someone that has won [Wimbledon] before."

That experience and knowhow has helped bring the best out of Muguruza again on grass. Her performances in beating the likes of world No. 1 Angelique Kerber, Svetlana Kuznetsova and most recently Rybarikova were staggeringly good. Martinez's influence has clearly helped her relax and refocus on a surface that compliments her game.

It has also seen a welcome return of consistency, arguably the biggest question over Muguruza's makeup. She has the ability and mindset to win majors, but her high-risk, explosive brand of tennis has a tendency to come unstuck on tour. Since winning the French Open in 2016, Muguruza has suffered plenty of early-round exits, particularly against lower-ranked players, which is part of the reason she dropped from second in the rankings to 15th in a year.

But for all the positive impact Martinez has had on Muguruza, there has been controversy. In the quarterfinals, Kuznetsova accused Muguruza of receiving on-court coaching, which is not allowed at ITF-sanctioned tournaments, although the Spaniard maintained it was just her physio cheering for her and nothing tactical.

That, though, remains the only blight on an otherwise unblemished tournament for Muguruza.

One last challenge awaits the Spanish contingent. Muguruza could make history and become the first player ever to beat both Venus and Serena in a Grand Slam final. If she succeeds, there will finally be another Spanish name on the winner's board.

"For the last years, you see a lot of the Williams surname," Muguruza said. "I look forward to put a Spanish name back there."

Source: http://www.espn.com/tennis/story/_/id/20031590/garbine-muguruza-happy-represent-spain-wimbledon-final

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