On Tuesday, Garbine Muguruza took the court for her first match in six months and posted a 6-4, 6-4 win over Nao Hibino. The world No. 16 went down 4-1 in the first set only to bounce back and win seven straight games. After missing out on a match point opportunity at 5-3, she'd serve out the match in front of an empty Louis Armstrong Stadium.

"They are making a great effort to make it happen, so I'm happy to participate," Muguruza said. "Hopefully it's not going to be like this forever. I was happy to go on the court. Of course, the lack of matches, it's there. I had a slow start."

A little shakiness was to be expected from Muguruza after being missing-in-action since February, when she last appeared on court in the quarterfinals of Doha. She dedicated her win to her friend Carla Suarez Navarro, who just revealed a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma after withdrawing from the US Open.

“When these things happen to these good people, I feel, like, so sad about it. So I know she was watching my match, and we talked a little bit,” Muguruza said. “For sure, will dedicate this win to her, because I want her to feel that we are behind her, that I am behind her, and I will go and see her at some point when it is fine.”

Muguruza spent the shutdown in Geneva living a quiet and simple life very much connected with nature.

"I was surprised that I was good," she said. "I know it's such a different life, but being away a little bit from the court and resting and everything, I was surprised that I was actually happy to experience that."


Muguruza dedicates first win after six months to Suarez Navarro

Muguruza dedicates first win after six months to Suarez Navarro

Garbine Muguruza Instagram

There was trips up the mountains, lakeside moments of reflection and pool-side relaxation. The 26-year-old would pen a personal essay for Vogue Spain describing her quarantine mindset. In it, she shared her thoughtful perspective on the pandemic and her identity as a tennis player, and how the state of the world has allowed her to think about who she is outside of the court.

"I didn't feel anxious to go back on court or that feeling," she said. "So I really took the good side of it and just used it to do other stuff that I never had time," adding that her six months off was what normal life might be like for a teenager "just being home and doing different stuff."

It was the first time since literally being a teenager that she spent more than a month in one place. In her essay, her many interests included writing, doing interviews, fashion and design, sewing, teaming up with National Geographic, taking college courses and becoming a businesswoman.

Muguruza dedicates first win after six months to Suarez Navarro

Muguruza dedicates first win after six months to Suarez Navarro


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The Spaniard also embraced the art of doing nothing, something all workaholics should try sometime.

"I did try a lot of things," she said. "Also enjoying doing nothing, because sometimes we are so busy in this life, it's so intense, that just doing nothing for a little bit is also nice."

Of course, with her career very much still ahead of her, she spent a lot of time training with coach Conchita Martinez and even shared the practice court with Stan Wawrinka (who opted not to play the US Open). The two-time Grand Slam champion was eager to get back on tour, but an ankle injury held her back.

"I'm excited to be back. I was hoping to start two weeks ago in Lexington," she said. "It's hard also to get the body ready after such a long break. You have to handle new things and feel good to go and play."

The No. 10 seed will next play Tsvetana Pironkova, who entered the major on a protected ranking as she comes back after having a child in 2018.