- Associated Press - Sunday, June 5, 2016

PARIS (AP) - Garbine Muguruza grew up watching the Williams sisters win Grand Slam titles and transform the way women’s tennis was played.

Muguruza admired them.

She loved the way the American siblings played. The way they competed. The way they carried themselves.

“I really like that they were very ambitious,” Muguruza said. “Every time they were playing, those girls, they really (wanted) to win. They’re very powerful. … They intimidate the other people.”

Now, at age 22, Muguruza is a major champion herself, taking the French Open title away from Serena Williams with a 7-5, 6-4 victory in the final Saturday to do it.

And Muguruza made clear afterward that she wants to continue to collect her sport’s most important trophies.

“Of course I’m very happy, but I’d like to have more,” Muguruza said. “My dream is to continue and win more tournaments, similar tournaments, and to dominate.”

That’s what the younger Williams has done for years. She owns 21 Grand Slam championships, one shy of Steffi Graf’s Open-era record, but has been having a hard time getting No. 22.

For a stretch of four major tournaments, up through a victory over Muguruza in the Wimbledon final last year, Williams went unbeaten, taking every title. Since then, though, Williams lost to Roberta Vinci in the semifinals of the U.S. Open, where Flavia Pennetta wound up with her first major championship (and last, because she then announced her retirement); to Angelique Kerber in the Australian Open final, and now to Muguruza.

It is the first time since 2011-12 that three consecutive major trophies went to a first-time women’s champion.

“I thought about it. I thought about it yesterday. I’m like, ‘Come on. … You can do it,’” Muguruza said. “When you see people that are winning, and there’s new faces, (it) makes you think, like, ‘I can be one of those faces.’”

There is no doubt that she is.

When the new WTA rankings come out Monday, Muguruza will move up from No. 4 to a career-best No. 2, with only Williams ahead of her.

The Spaniard demonstrates the same sort of determination on a court that she observed in Williams and her sibling, hitting hard groundstrokes, aiming for lines, taking risks that bring real rewards.

“She likes to go for her shots. And in moments where, you know, you could be tense, and some other players would be tense, she goes for it,” said Conchita Martinez, the only Spanish woman to win Wimbledon, in 1994, and now the captain of the country’s Davis Cup and Fed Cup teams. “Serena does that, too.”

Martinez had this to add about Muguruza: “I’m sure she is going to win more Grand Slams.”

Few would argue, especially when hearing Muguruza talk about how she knows there are parts of her game that she wants to improve, starting with her serve.

As for Williams, it’s never a good idea to write her off, even if she is 34 and already the oldest woman to be No. 1, along with the oldest to win a Grand Slam title in the Open era.

Graf’s mark is still out there, still something to chase, still within reach.

“It’s not easy to match records,” said Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou. “We’ll get there. It will take the time that it takes. As long as we’re in Grand Slam finals and semifinals, we’ll have many opportunities to do it.”

He continued: “If she did this with ease, she wouldn’t be human.”

Muguruza’s coach, Sam Sumyk, was asked whether this was the end of the Williams era.

“No, no, no, no, no, no, no. You’re jumping the gun there. No, no, no, no. She is still here,” Sumyk replied. “She will be around for a long time, I hope. She is a fantastic player, and we need her.”


AP Sports Writer John Leicester contributed to this report.


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