WTA Finals 2021: Garbiñe Muguruza: “You always have to resist, never doubt yourself” | sports


Mounted early in the day in a car heading to the Guadalajara airport (Mexico), where she has made history by becoming the first Spanish woman to win the Masters Cup by defeating 6-3 and 7-5 (in 1h 38m ) to the Estonian Anett Kontaveit, Garbiñe Muguruza (Caracas, 28 years old) attends EL PAÍS and gives off happiness on all four sides. She is smiling after having celebrated her success with the odd tequila and accuses the lack of sleep. “Here I am, a little tired, really. With sunglasses … ”, she says while her career is already taking on the prominence of an important tennis player: number one, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the Masters shine in the record of an indecipherable player who returns to the forefront of the only one way she could do it: she envisions life in a big way.

Question. Has the night been squeezed a lot?

Answer. Yes of course! We had to celebrate because it was a spectacular victory and he deserved it. These moments are very fleeting and now, finally, we are going to make a break and to enjoy; It is not like in other tournaments like Wimbledon, that you win, you finish and then more comes. Now, finally, I can sit back and breathe for a moment.

P. In other words, that little less than I had calculated, right?

R. What goes, what goes! I had nothing calculated. In fact, I started the tournament with a loss and I was thinking: ‘my goodness’ …

P. Win again after a tough period. Does this mean a return?

R. That is the perception of the people when they see that I have lifted another important title, similar to a Grand Slam. But I have always been there, all the time crushing me week after week, so for me it has not been a return as such. But in the eyes of the people, I understand that from the outside it can be seen as something like that, it is normal.

I have paid a debt to myself, but everything has its time and I still have much more ambition

P. Did you have an outstanding debt to yourself?

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R. I think yes, that I have somehow paid off a debt, but I still have much more ambition. I was very close to achieving it last year at the Australian Open, in that final that escaped me, but everything has its time, its moment. Now I have been able to get this trophy from the teachers that for us tennis players is very special because we know what it means: the eight best in the world, each game a final, perhaps less attractive at first glance than something like Wimbledon, but for me this tastes like glory.

P. She is the first Spanish woman to do it. Do you feel the pride of the pioneers?

R. Good, huh? It is not easy at all to be a pioneer with all the success we have had in Spanish tennis, so it is great to be able to contribute my grain of sand to history. You see those names on the trophy and they are true legends, and now I’m going to be there too.

Muguruza serves during the match against Kontaveit.
Muguruza serves during the match against Kontaveit.HENRY ROMERO (Reuters)

P. Until last year she was sheltered under the shell. I needed it?

R. It was a few years in which I was very successful and very soon, and I had great expectations about myself. Perhaps I did not meet those expectations that everyone and I had placed on me. They are very difficult to bear, I have to admit. I had to calm down, step back, and focus again on starting at the bottom, step by step. In the progression of an athlete there are moments for everything, some in which one is more exposed and with more desire, and others in which you need a little more privacy, especially if the results do not accompany you.

P. In some way, has it ever been misunderstood?

R. Yes, many times yes because it is not easy to deal with so many opinions and people think that because you have done it once you can do it as much as you want, and it is not like that. Anyway, I consider it a privilege to have all that pressure on me and all those expectations, and I would not change it for the world, even if it has been difficult for me to carry it at times. The media live from the moment, for both good and bad news. Without you all this would be useless, you give it a good time.

I was very successful and very early, and it is difficult to bear the expectations. I needed to take a step back

P. He’s ever said that he doesn’t see himself playing until he’s 40, that he intends to retire soon. Do you keep it?

R. Man, not until 40! If you asked Serena Williams the same thing she would have said something similar, and look where she is! I don’t see myself playing that long, so long, but I still have a war left to give you.

P. During tough times, did you ever lose your appetite?

R. Not the appetite, you just suffer and go through the storm. The one who has retains and knew that sooner or later, working at this level would end up reaping the fruits. You have to go through those bad times and everyone has a way of dealing with it; that’s the tricky thing about sport, that you have to endure and resist all the time, and not doubt yourself.

P. Regularity was required of her, but she is a tennis player of moments. Was it being asked to be something it is not?

R. Yes I think so. Although I have always emphasized achieving consistency, it will always be a challenge for me because of my personality, because of my style of play, because of my motivation … Even if I work hard and have improved a lot, I think I must continue to insist.

Muguruza celebrates the victory in the final on the track.
Muguruza celebrates the victory in the final on the track.ULISES RUIZ (AFP)

P. Nadal has set the bar too high. Do you consider that scale unfair for the rest?

R. I see it totally like that, but total, eh? In fact, I am going to tell you an anecdote. When I won Roland Garros, I remember they told me: ‘if Rafa hasn’t won it, you haven’t won it…’. Imagine the misconception that people have for all the success we have had in Spanish tennis. Some things are not appreciated and that is a problem.

P. Now the demand will grow again. Do you think you are better prepared to deal with it?

R. I am much more prepared and settled to withstand that kind of pressure. Logically, then you have to do it, suffer and have a bad time, but of course all this catches me in a better situation than when I was younger.

P. This year insists on its maturity, but what is maturity?

R. Maturity is in a much broader perspective, in understanding what you feel and managing the results. When you are younger everything is more dramatic and you are more sensitive, and now I process much better what I feel at all times and especially how I have to resolve it. In the end, the experience gives you answers to all that.

Muguruza, in the final ceremony of the tournament.
Muguruza, in the final ceremony of the tournament.AFP7 via Europa Press (Europa Press)

P. He also spoke of enjoying. Is that the secret?

R. I have had many years where I dealt with everything to life and death, and you die many times. Now I have taken it differently, with a great team and especially as a result of the covid. We have tried to take it with a little more humility, despite all the circumstances, and that has helped me a lot when it comes to having more peace of mind.

P. Do you process criticism better?

R. Yes, I handle it a lot better. I give it less importance and before I took everything more to heart. I listen, I evaluate, I see if it is true or not, or if it makes some sense and I am not hooked as I did at other times.

P. Hear more and better?

R. I listen more and ignore nonsense, I have sharpened my ear. I’m still a bit in the same line and I’m not very aware of things, I stay in my little bubble and well healthy, because I don’t want anyone to poison me.

I have felt misunderstood. It is not easy to deal with so many opinions, although the pressure is a privilege “

P. What percentage of the success corresponds to Conchita?

R. The truth is that she is a fantastic woman and had a great empathy with me from the first day we met, many years ago. She understands me perfectly, but not only her but the whole team; all have helped me improve and have a good mood, a good spirit. That influences a lot when it comes to going out on the court and playing, you must have a good spirit.

P. You work with a psychologist, what plus does it bring you?

R. I have actually worked with many psychologists and during many phases of the year. I think it’s something key, that maybe when you’re younger you don’t see it because you’re more selfish and you say to yourself: ‘I can, I can, I can’. But in the end everything adds up to succeed, and this gives you tools to say: ‘Come on, how do I deal with this?’ He is a confidant to whom you can express things that sometimes you do not want to comment to your team.

P. And now, how do you plan to celebrate when you return home?

R. Doing nothing, on a deck chair. It has been a tough year in which I have had to grit my teeth, but it has been the best of all. I’ve always felt that I had tennis and that I just had to prove it. It has been my best season. I have been stable, with the occasional moment, but in general calmer and in the end lifting this trophy that very few players have. It’s a bit like the trophy trophy, so now I want to relax and recharge my batteries to come back stronger in 2022.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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