Muguruza calls time on Hall of Fame career

The Spaniard became the 24th woman to be crowned WTA world No.1 during a stellar stint on Tour.

Garbiñe Muguruza / Roland-Garros 2022©Nicolas Gouhier / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

The Spaniard became the 24th woman to be crowned WTA world No.1 during a stellar stint on Tour.

 If it’s there to be ticked off, Garbiñe Muguruza pretty much did it all within the confines of a tennis court.

The Spaniard topped the rankings, won two Grand Slams, managed to withstand the greatness of the Williams sisters, she's a modern day great in her own right.

However, the 30-year-old hasn’t competed since January last year, and in March 2023 took an extended break from tennis. The injuries, the relentless schedule had taken its toll.

As a result, on Saturday Muguruza announced her retirement in Madrid, ahead of the Laureus World Sports Awards. Time to open that next chapter.

"If 25 years ago when I started hitting my first tennis balls someone had told me that I would become a professional tennis player, that I would fulfil my dream of winning Roland-Garros and Wimbledon, that I would become number one in the world and win the WTA Finals, I would have thought this person was crazy," said Muguruza.

"Tennis has given me a lot in this first part of my life. It has been a fantastic journey in which I have experienced unique situations. I have travelled all over the world and experienced many different cultures."

On Muguruza's social media profiles is the tagline, 'Because life is just too big to play small.' And that moto certainly transferred to the court.

In the zone, playing with confidence, she was a match for any one and any style. Her fierce serve was versatile, the groundstrokes were relentless. On the flip side, the Spaniard could play with subtlety and ventured forward frequently, possessing canny, soft hands at net. 

It’s this all-court armoury which propelled her into the limelight in 2012. As a Miami wild card, Muguruza was an 18-year-old new kid on the block, but stunned two Top 10 players, before defeat by eventual champion Agnieszka Radwanska in the fourth round.

That was a sign of things to come, a player who thrived in the marquee events, relished the larger arenas, the showtime. 

In just a fourth professional season, Muguruza burst into a maiden major final, falling to Serena Williams 6-4, 6-4 at Wimbledon 2015.

That was a stepping stone.

Garbine Muguruza Roland-Garros 2016©Julien Crosnier / FFT

Over to Paris the next summer and Muguruza was a set down to Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the first round of Roland-Garros 2016. The Spaniard dug in, found a way. Then it all clicked and she didn't drop another set all fortnight.

Into the final, Muguruza denied Serena the chance to equal Steffi Graf's Open Era record of 22 major singles titles with 7-5, 6-4 on the scoreboard. “I am so, so excited,” said Muguruza eight years ago in Paris. 

 “This is the tournament in Spain, being on clay, Rafa (Nadal) is the champion and to win here is the best. I can’t explain with words what this day means to me. You work all your life to get here. I grew up on clay so for Spain and for me this is just amazing.”

Back round to Wimbledon in 2017 and Muguruza assembled another memorable major, this time dismissing Venus Williams in the final 7-5, 6-0 to become the first Spanish champion since her coach, Conchita Martinez, won at SW19 back in 1994. 

Not many players have ever beaten both Serena and Venus, very few have beaten them both in majors, only Muguruza has beaten them both in Grand Slam finals. Now that is legendary.

Later in 2017 Muguruza would be crowned world No.1, she proved her major pedigree again by reaching the Australian Open 2020 final, where she was denied over three sets by Sofia Kenin. 

Garbine Muguruza WTA Finals 2022©Rob Prange / FFT

WTA Finals glory followed in 2021, which was the last of 10 career titles. To think three of her trophies were Grand Slams or WTA Finals silverware – what a box office battler, on song Garbiñe was an unstoppable force.

As revealed in her announcement, Muguruza will join Laureus as an Ambassador, "helping young people through the power of sport and continuing to give back to tennis."

Muguruza's career alone can definitely serve up plenty of inspiration.