A weekend of inter-generational strife opened on Saturday with a victory for fearless youth. Roger Federer will have his say on Sunday, but 37-year-old Venus Williams could not live with the power, poise and all-round sass of Garbine Muguruza.
The result was a disappointment for romantics. Williams could have created a sporting fairytale by lifting a sixth Wimbledon, nine years after her last. In truth, though, Muguruza’s victory was a positive for the sport. Tennis needs an exciting future, as well as a glorious past.
Muguruza, who is 23, was quite prepared to make this argument her self.
When she came into the interview room last night after her dominant 7-5, 6-0 victory, one reporter suggested that she had stopped the sentimental favourite in her tracks. “But come on,” she replied with a chuckle. “We want new names and new faces!
“When I said that I grew up watching her play, everybody start laughing,” added Muguruza, who would have been less perplexed if she had seen the comical face Williams pulled at that moment of the presentation ceremony.
“But, in fact, is something incredible. I’m just very surprised that she’s hungry to keep winning. I don’t know if I will be like this with her age. Probably I won’t because she’s the only one.”
Muguruza may represent the cream of the next generation, but there is something timeless about her. She walks like a leading lady, in a stately prowl, holding her head and shoulders back in the manner of a ship’s figurehead.
And, like a silver-screen diva from the 1930s, Muguruza does not get out of bed for anything but the best. Her last two trophies both came at majors: first the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen at the 2016 French Open, and now the Venus Rosewater Dish.
In between, there was a long spell of unfulfilment, or perhaps adjustment, as Muguruza struggled with the burden of being the next big thing. Perhaps it is no coincidence that as soon as she had passed her Roland Garros crown to Jelena Ostapenko she suddenly rediscovered her best self.
Muguruza had been irresistible at this tournament, dropping her serve only four times on the way to the final. Yet there were times in the early stages when it seemed like she might be overwhelmed.
Williams announced herself with an ace on the first point and maintained a similar gameplan to the one that had handcuffed Johanna Konta in the semi-final. Deep, aggressive hitting from the baseline and heavy serves to the forehand whenever she needed a cheap point.
The tactic seemed to be working when she brought up two set points on Muguruza’s serve at 5-4 in the first set. And then the critical rally ensued: a punishing 20-shot sequence, lasting 26 breathless seconds, in which Williams kept targeting her opponent’s forehand. She did force one near-miss during the exchange, when Muguruza just clipped the top of the net-cord, but the ball still found the court.
These high-profile matches turn on small margins. Had that ball flown just a couple of inches lower we might have seen a different result. But Muguruza said later that she always felt prepared to go the long way around. “I was expecting the best Venus,” she explained. “I knew she was going to make me suffer and fight for it.
“When I had those set points against me, I’m like, ‘Hey, it’s normal. I’m playing Venus here.’ It’s so I just keep fighting. And I knew that if I was playing like I was playing during the two weeks, I was going to have eventually an opportunity. So I was, like, calm. If I lose the first set, I still have two more. Let’s not make a drama.”
The only drama was the sudden disintegration of Williams’s tennis. In her next service game she donated a double fault and a couple of limp forehands into the net. The first break of serve soon ensued, and that would be the end of this final as a genuine contest.
If the 51 minutes of the first set made for a terrific spectacle of power-baseline tennis, the 26 minutes of the second were nothing less than a procession. Muguruza won the last nine games of this tournament without interruption.
Afterwards, she paid tribute to her support team. Her regular coach, the Frenchman Sam Sumyk, did not travel to Wimbledon because his wife is due to give birth soon. So she has been working with the 1994 champion here, Conchita Martínez, who happens to be the last Spanish woman to win Wimbledon. Even more neatly, Martínez beat Martina Navratilova – a 37-year-old sentimental favourite – in the final. “The coincidence was, like, awesome,” said Muguruza last night.
Where, then, will Muguruza go from here? The short answer is to No 5 in the world. But she clearly has the game to climb higher and to win titles on a regular basis. There are no obvious weaknesses in her play other than an inability to grind out results when she is not feeling at her best. In this, she resembles Stan Wawrinka – another hugely powerful and dangerous competitor who labours through peaks and troughs rather than maintaining the consistently high level of the Big Four.
The first question that she faced from the assembled press related to her pre-Wimbledon warm-up event in Eastbourne, where she lost 6-1, 6-0 against the world No 23 Barbora Strycova. How could she go from that to the elite level she put on Centre Court on Saturday?
Muguruza shrugged. “I always come very motivated to the Grand Slams. Since I lost the final here [to Serena Williams in 2015], I wanted to change that.
“Is very hard to find, like, a recipe to feel good fitness-wise, tennistically [sic], mentally. I think in this tournament I put everything together, which is very hard. Normally, you’re tired, I feel pain here, my confidence is not there. So I felt this tournament I find somehow to put everything together and perform good at every level.” Whatever she did, it was a winning formula.
Delight for Muguruza
A real shame that the second set was so one-sided after the titanic struggle of the first set, but what a win for Muguruza.
We'll never know how affected Williams was by the Sjogren's Syndrome that she has to live with, but what we do know is that Muguruza took full advantage.
The Spaniard now has two grand slams to her name, and surely many more will follow. I know we said that after the French Open and she went off the boil a little bit, but you feel Muguruza is still learning the game and once she does that she will be a force to be reckoned with.
A telling stat is that Muguruza has as many grand slam titles as she does non grand slam titles, underling that she is a real big-match player.
"I had the hardest match today against Venus. She's such an incredible player.
"I grew up watching her play so it was so hard playing her today. She was an inspiration, and I feel incredible to play her here.
"I was nervous of course. I always dreamed to play here, but I was composed I guess.
"The first set was very tough and we both had lots of chances, but I'm glad I made it.
"I want to thank my team that's here - Conchita, my physio. All the team.
"Two years ago I lost in final to Serena and she said I would win one today, and two years later here I am. There will be a big party to celebrate for sure."
"Congratulations Garbine, amazing. I know how hard you work and I'm sure this means so much to you and your family. Well done today, beautiful.
"Thank you to my team who've been here day in day out. And my family, I love you guys. We've had lots of beautiful moments in the past week.
"I miss you Serena. I tried to do what you do but I think there will be other opportunities."
It's a strange, slightly shellshocked atmosphere on Centre court, but there are big cheers for Muguruza as she walks to collect the Venus Rosewater dish.
Game, set and match! Muguruza defeats Williams 7-5, 6-0
Has Williams tapped out here? She hits a couple of backhands miles long to fall down 30-0, and a wickedly deep forehand takes Muguruza to three championship points at 40-0. The first two go begging...are we about to witness a Murray v Djokovic 2013 final type game? No, because Williams sends a forehand long and a teary Muguruza has done it. It was a strange end because the shot was originally called in, and it took a Muguruza challenge to show it was out, but out it was and a bizarre final comes to an end after 1hr 17 minutes.
Garbine Muguruza is the 2017 Wimbledon champion.
Williams 5-7, 0-5 Muguruza* (*next server) - Muguruza breaks
Blimey, this is getting ugly. Three Williams errors - her 22nd, 23rd and 24th of the match - hand Muguruza three break points at 0-40. She only needs one, taking the first with a guided backhand winner up the line.
It's been an absolutely incredibly last half hour, and Muguruza will now serve for the title.
Williams* 5-7, 0-4 Muguruza (*next server)
At 37 years of age, does Williams have it in her to mount a comeback? It doesn't look it like it here, as Muguruza moves to 40-15 with a couple of unreturned serves. Another wonderful backhand passing shot secures a hold to 30, and Muguruza has now won seven games in a row. Williams' forays into the net reek of desperation, and she's getting picked off time and time again.
Williams 5-7, 0-3 Muguruza* (*next server) - Muguruza breaks
Williams appears to be struggling with her serve, and her speeds have dropped alarmingly. The American also looks a step slow, and Muguruza moves to 15-30 with a forehand winner up the line and a threaded crosscourt backhand passing shot. Another wonderful backhand passing shot follows - this one guided up the line - and Muguruza has another break point at 30-40. Can she take it? Yes, she can. Williams pushes a forehand volley wide, and Muguruza claims the double break.
Muguruza three games away from a maiden Wimbledon title.
Williams* 5-7, 0-2 Muguruza (*next server)
Williams chucks in three dreadful errors to go down 40-0, and although she reduces the deficit to 40-30 with two forehand winners, a netted backhand gifts Muguruza the hold.
Five games in a row for Muguruza.
Williams 5-7, 0-1 Muguruza* (*next server) - Muguruza breaks
Big moments at the start of the second set, as Williams looks in control at 40-30 but makes an unforced error off either wing to hand Muguruza a break point. Williams saves it with some brutal hitting, but she pulls a backhand wide and hands over a second break point. And this time Muguruza saves it, as Williams double faults! Blimey, Williams' first serve was initially called as an ace but a challenge showed it to be out, and the double quickly followed. Muguruza wins her fourth game in a row and is a set and a break to the good.
Incidentally, there were six forehand unforced errors from Muguruza that set, and eight from Williams.
— Boris Becker (@TheBorisBecker) July 15, 2017
Williams* 5-7 Muguruza (*next server) - Game and first set Muguruza
So Muguruza is serving for the first set; how are your nerves Garbine?
Williams starts the game brilliantly by pulverising a forehand passing shot up the line for 0-15, but she miscues yet another forehand long for 15-15. The American then nets a forehand for 30-15, and it becomes 40-15 and two set points as Muguruza somehow gets her racket to a backhand and miraculously loops it in the far corner for a winner. Williams connects with a forehand to save the first set point, but she nets a backhand on the second one and Muguruza has the first set!
What a 51 minutes of tennis that was.
Williams 5-6 Muguruza* (*next server) - Muguruza breaks
A Williams double fault and missed forehand has Muguruza up 15-30, before a forehand into the net from Venus makes it 30-40, break point. But Muguruza makes a mess of it with a pretty awful forehand that flies well long. Both players are really struggling on the forehand side, and another error on that wing from Williams hands the Spaniard a second break point of the game. Can she take it? Yes, she can! Williams pulls a forehand long, and Muguruza has the break!
The Spaniard will now serve for the first set. This is a fantastic final so far.
Williams* 5-5 Muguruza (*next server) - Muguruza saves two set points and holds
Venus moves to 0-15 with a brilliant backhand winner down the line, but she sends a backhand long on the next point for 15-15. Muguruza then sends another forehand long, and Williams is two points from the set at 15-30. Make that one point, as Muguruza nets a forehand to gift Venus two set points at 15-40. The Spaniard saves the first after a brutal baseline exchange that ends with a Williams forehand into the net, and the second also goes begging when the American is long with a forehand return. Moments later Muguruza ekes out a massive hold, thanks to a forehand winner and a long Williams forehand.
What a game that was. Williams stepped up the aggression and mercilessly went after Muguruza's forehand, but the Spaniard dug in and keeps herself alive this set.
Williams 5-4 Muguruza* (*next server)
Incredible accuracy from Williams sees her find the lines on three consecutive points - with a second serve, a forehand winner and an ace down the T. The hat-trick takes her to 40-0, and Williams wraps up a love hold with a forehand winner.
Muguruza will now serve to stay in the first set. It makes you wonder why she elected to receive, especially as Venus won both sets against Johanna Konta on Thursday by breaking serve.
Williams* 4-4 Muguruza (*next server)
It's Muguruza serving with the new balls, but it's Williams who takes strikes the first blow of the game as she hammers away an 87mph backhand winner for 0-15. Muguruza responds with another effective body serve for 15-15 and a backhand volley winner for 30-15. Williams then sprays a forehand long, and it's a Muguruza hold to 15 when she swats away a backhand winner. Thirty-one minutes gone, and nothing to separate the players.
Williams 4-3 Muguruza* (*next server) - Williams saves a break point and holds
It's crucial seventh game time - the last game with the old balls, when service breaks are supposedly more common.
A terrific point, which sees both players up at the net and Muguruza eventually sending a forehand volley long, takes Williams to 30-15. The five-time champion volleyed beautifully that point. Muguruza though responds with one of those trademark backhand winners up the line for 30-30. We're then at deuce after a missed return from the Spaniard and a Williams double fault (her second of the game). Following another deuce Muguruza earns her first break point of the match as Williams sprays a backhand long. Can she take it? No! Williams produces an incredibly brave second serve that kicks up off the service line and draws a missed return from her opponent. But after earning another game point, Williams serves her third double fault of the game and it's deuce once more. An ace and a missed Muguruza backhand follow, and Venus holds on.
Three double faults, but clutch serving from Williams when down break point fends off Muguruza.
Williams* 3-3 Muguruza (*next server) - Muguruza saves a break point and holds
Clever body serve from Muguruza takes her to 15-0, and she draws a forehand error from Venus to move up 30-15. A double fault though has us at 30-30, and danger signs for the Spaniard. Williams then earns herself the break point of the match with a stupendous crosscourt passing shot on the run for 30-40. The American has the chance on her racket, but she misses with a pretty simple forehand up the line, and we're back to deuce. Muguruza then moves to advantage with a perfect wide ace that sends a puff of chalk flying into the air, and she holds when Williams sprays a forehand long.
Big hold for Muguruza, and a missed opportunity for Williams.
Williams 3-2 Muguruza* (*next server)
Muguruza may be struggling with forehand, but Williams is absolutely nailing hers. She bludgeons away a winner on that side for 15-0, and then draws a couple of mistakes from her opponent as she eases to a love hold. It'll be fascinating to see what Muguruza does about her creaking forehand. Does she keep going for brute force or does she try and add some spin and slice to it to give herself a bit more margin for error?
Williams* 2-2 Muguruza (*next server)
Two missed returns from Williams make it 30-0, but yet another Muguruza forehand error has us at 30-15. She effectively runs around a forehand to hit a backhand on the next point (the old Benoit Paire trick) and it works to take her to 40-15. Williams then sprays a backhand long, and it's game Muguruza.
Williams 2-1 Muguruza* (*next server)
We know the Muguruza forehand is a bit of a weakness, and she gives up two more errors on that wing (that's now four in total already) to fall behind 30-0. Williams then thwacks a forehand winner up the line for 40-15, and eventually holds to 30 when Muguruza makes another forehand error.
Brutal hitting from both players early on.
Williams* 1-1 Muguruza (*next server)
Muguruza nervily double faults to start the game, but a couple of service winners followed by a volley winner and then a half-volley winner take her to a hold to 15. Excellent game from the Spaniard, and good to see her getting to the net as I was talking about pre-match.
Williams 1-0 Muguruza* (*next server)
Williams waits regally on her chair after the players are called to start the match, just letting her opponent wait on the baseline and feel that little bit more nervous. The American then strides onto the court and smashes an ace down the T to move up 15-0. Muguruza though gets hold of a couple of forehands and moves to 30-30. She then has a good look at a second serve, but overcooks a forehand to fall down 40-30. Muguruza just snatched at that a little bit. Moments later, Williams leathers a backhand winner up the line to complete the hold to 30.
The closed roof is making for a deep thudding noise when the players connect with their groundstrokes.
Muguruza won the toss and elected to receive. So Williams is serving first, here we go...
Re: the below, Williams won 65% of her second serve points against Johanna Konta in the semi-final.
For me, big key to the final is Venus's 2d serve. Often vulnerable but has hit it with conviction here. Winning 51 % of points on it
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) July 15, 2017
Steely focus from both players as they begin their knock-up. Muguruza, as was the case in her semi-final, with heavy strapping on her left thigh. Her coach for this tournament Conchita Martinez is the last Spanish woman to have won Wimbledon, back in 1994 when she defeated Martina Navratilova.
Venus incidentally is the oldest finalist since Navratilova that year.
Players are out
Huge noise for both players, with the cheers reverberating that little bit more under the roof. Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova among the former players in the stands.
The rain continues to pour, and the roof will be closed for the duration of the match. It will be the first women's final at Wimbledon played under the roof.
There's a great buzz on Centre Court.
Tactical guide to the final
This is very interesting from our mate Craig O'Shannessy, who is an absolute whizz at this sort of thing, and is the strategy analyst for the Wimbledon channel this fortnight. I particularly like the sword and shield analogy.
What makes great
During this tournament, our pals at IBM have mined huge amounts of data to try and ascertain who the greatest of all time is. You can get involved in the discussion on Twitter using the #whatmakesgreat and by taking part in our poll and adding a comment for a chance to be on centre court at Wimbledon next year, thanks to IBM Watson.
There are different categories breaking down the different attributes of what makes a great champion, but below is the one for the best server.
Which Wimbledon champion is the best server? Vote now and reply to the #WhatMakesGreat debate for your chance to win Centre Court tickets
— Telegraph Sport (@TelegraphSport) July 14, 2017
And then there were two. With Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova absent, one of the most open Wimbledon draws in decades has ended up with a heavyweight final.
First of all, there is the uplifting story of Venus Williams - the evergreen 37-year-old who despite battling the auto-immune disorder Sjogren's syndrome is in her first Wimbledon final since 2009. A win today will take the elder Williams to six Wimbledon singles titles.
Then there's Garbine Muguruza, the exciting Spaniard who looked like becoming the next star of the WTA Tour when she stormed to the French Open title last June. A big-match player, Muguruza has reached more grand slam finals (three) than she has won non grand slam titles (two).
In theory then we should have a very interesting final in store this afternoon. Both of these players possess imposing attacking games, and Muguruza has shown a welcome willingness to get to the net during the past fortnight.
They have also both been in terrific form this tournament and have only dropped one set each in the their respective runs to the final. And both look to be peaking at just the right time after producing grass-court masterclasses in their semi-finals.
Williams played beautifully in her straight-sets defeat of home favourite Johanna Konta, while Muguruza was merciless in her 65-minute evisceration of Magdalena Rybarikova.
Neither player will want to take a backwards step today, and the match could be decided by whether it's Muguruza formidable backhand or Williams' thunderous forehand that it is the dominant stroke from the baseline. Muguruza's success at the net - she's won 71 per cent of net points so far this tournament - could also be decisive.
Williams has won three out of the four previous meetings between the two, but they've never met on grass, and it was Muguruza who won their most recent match - on clay at the Italian Open in May.
Venus's sister Serena meanwhile beat Muguruza in her first Wimbledon final two years ago, and Venus admitted on Thursday that she'd be getting some tips from her ahead of the final.
It's hard to imagine anything but a close match today, and I think it'll be Muguruza who will just edge it in three sets.
Hi all, greetings on an overcast day at SW19. In about an hour's time Venus Williams and Garbine Muguruza will step onto the Centre Court for this much-anticipated final.
Can Venus claim her sixth Wimbledon crown, or will be a maiden title for the Spaniard?
When and where is the women's final?
It's today (Saturday, July 15) on Wimbledon's Centre Court.
What time does the final start?
It will commence at 2pm BST.
What TV channel is it on?
It's on BBC 1 from 1pm BST. You can also catch highlights of all today's action on BBC 2 at 8pm with Today at Wimbledon. Or you can follow all the action right here when this very page turns into our live blog from 1pm.
Venus Williams is attempting to become the oldest winner of the women's singles title at Wimbledon for more than a century. And, unlike Charlotte Sterry, who lifted the trophy in 1908 aged 37 years and 282 days, she will almost certainly not travel to the All England Club by bicycle.
At 37 years and 28 days, Williams is looking for her first grand slam title since Wimbledon nine years ago, when she claimed her fifth crown here and seventh in total.
A gradual decline followed, and when she was diagnosed with the auto-immune condition Sjogren's syndrome in 2011, it seemed Williams' grand slam-winning days were over.
Muguruza is through to the final for the second time in three years and is looking to go one better after losing to Serena in 2015.
Last year the 23-year-old Spaniard turned the tables on Serena to win her maiden slam title at the French Open and was immediately hailed as the new leader of the women's game.
What are they saying?
"I had a lot of issues. This year has been amazing in terms of my play, playing deep into the big events. Of course, I'm excited about being again in another final, trying to take it a step further.
"I feel very focused. There's still a lot to be done. I have one more match that I'd like to be the winner of. I have to go out there and take it and play well.
"But I like to take courage in the fact that I've been playing well this tournament and this year, and all these moments have led to this.
"I think it's wonderful to have the opportunity to play well and to be strong and have experience. I think experience can either work against you or for you. I like to think it's working for me."
"I think my mind is more equipped this time because the more experience you get, the more you know how to deal with these situations, because they're very special.
"I think (Venus Williams' longevity) is very impressive. I think not everybody can do that. I don't think I could be 37 and playing (at) that level.
"I think she just loves to play and she enjoys going out there. Even though she's achieved so many things, she's still motivated to go for more, which is also very surprising."
What is our prediction?
Venus has made it to the final because, even at 37, she is able to overpower many of her opponents. But in Muguruza she will meet an equal. And a younger equal. The fairytale would be for Venus to triumph and thus become the oldest winner of the women's singles title at Wimbledon for more than a century. But she will tire faster than her Spanish rival, who should come out on top.
Prediction: Muguruza to come from behind and win in three sets. (This is not necessarily Charlie's prediction - that will come later)