Wimbledon Women's Final Preview: Five-time champ Venus meets Muguruza

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Both players like grass, and both will try to get in the first strike in the rallies. (AP)

Garbiñe Muguruza [14] vs. Venus Williams [10]

We love finesse and craftsmanship, but power tennis usually wins the day, or the fortnight, at women’s Grand Slams. That has held true in 2017: Serena Williams won the Australian Open and Jelena Ostapenko, firing with both barrels, won the French Open. It’s obvious that heavy artillery will rule again at Wimbledon, when two of the game’s hardest hitters square off.

Muguruza-Williams promises fireworks. Any player who reaches a major final is, by definition, playing well, but these two have really transcended their usual levels over the last three matches. Muguruza faced down two former Grand Slam champs who were on their games, Angelique Kerber and Svetlana Kuznetsova, in the fourth round and quarterfinals; and in the semis she ran over Magdalena Rybarikova. Venus handcuffed Ostapenko in the quarters, and dictated from start to finish against Johanna Konta in the semis. Judging by those performances, and the intense focus each woman brought to them, it’s hard to imagine either Muguruza or Venus losing in the final.

But one of them must. Muguruza and Williams have played three completed matches; the American has won two, the Spaniard one. Two of them went three sets. Each likes grass, and each will try to get in the first strike in the rallies. Muguruza’s ground strokes have been slightly more lethal and perfectly placed; and if you believe in historical symmetry, it’s interesting that the last woman to beat a 37-year-old in the Wimbledon final, Conchita Martinez (she defeated Martina Navratilova in 1994), will be coaching Muguruza on Saturday.

But I think Venus’ strengths give her the advantage. She’s a more natural defender, and her serve is a bigger bail-out weapon than Muguruza’s. And she desperately wants to keep that trophy in the family.

Winner: Williams

—GRAND SLAM WEEK: Watch Wimbledon Primetime on Tennis Channel, and catch up on the other 2017 Grand Slams on Tennis Channel Plus
—Watch encores from the 2017 French Open and Australian Open on Tennis Channel Plus, including matches like the AO Final showdown between Serena & Venus Williams

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