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Venus Williams vs Garbine Muguruza Wimbledon Final preview: Williams and Muguruza collide for 2017 Wimbledon title

Brendan O'Neill in Tennis 14 Jul 2017

Five-time champion Venus Williams is looking to make history at the All England Club on Saturday when she takes on Spanish powerhouse Garbine Muguruza for the 2017 Wimbledon title.

Watch and bet on tennis at bet365 > sports > live streaming tennis. The final begins at 2.00pm local time/BST on Saturday.

Venus Williams and Garbine Muguruza may be the 10th and 14th seeds respectively at The Championships in 2017, but there’s absolutely no doubt these two aggressive grass courters have been the standout players at Wimbledon over the last fortnight - form, that if they each carry into Saturday, should ensure a thrilling final showdown. Both Williams and Muguruza have dropped just one set in advancing to Saturday’s showpiece, with the 37-year-old Venus aiming to become the oldest grand slam champion in Open Era history, while Muguruza is hoping to erase the memories of her runner-up finish in 2015 (where she lost to Venus’s sister Serena) to and capture a second major title. It promises to be a spectacular day at SW19 when Williams and Muguruza take to court for the Wimbledon final at 2.00pm local time/BST on Saturday.

I feel like there’s no words that can do justice to accurately describe the monumental achievements that Venus Williams keeps delivering during the latter stages of her career. Diagnosed with the long-term Sjogren’s syndrome - an autoimmune disease - back in 2011, Williams has also had to deal with numerous serious injury problems - and yet the legendary American is playing some of her best tennis at 37 years of age and has just progressed to her second grand slam final of 2017 and her first Wimbledon title match since 2009. Truly inspirational stuff.

It’s incredible to think that Williams made her first major final all the way back at the 1997 US Open - just her third ever major tournament, ultimately falling to Martina Hingis. Wimbledon would go on to be Williams’ most successful slam over the course of her illustrious career, winning the title in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008, along with finishing runner-up in 2002, 2003 and 2009, while you can also throw in a semi-final showing from last year for good measure.

On the subject of age, Williams’ 20th Wimbledon campaign largely transformed into a battle against the newest generation of WTA stars. Powerful teenagers Naomi Osaka and Ana Konjuh weren’t even born when Williams made her Wimbledon debut in 1997, while French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko was only three weeks old - yet Venus defeated them all in straight sets, including inflicting the first slam defeat on Ostapenko since she captured the Roland Garros title.

A tougher-than expected three-set battle against Qiang Wang in the second round was the only time Williams dropped a set en route to the final, with the five-time winner producing some scintillating tennis to end the run of local hope Johanna Konta in the semi-finals on Friday. The match was hanging in the balance in the opening set when Konta opened up a pair of break points at 4-4, but Williams saved them both with fearless tennis and then finished strongly, winning eight of the last 10 games to complete a 6-4 6-2 victory and secure a spot in her ninth Wimbledon final.

"I've played a lot of finals here, it's been a blessing,” Venus said after the match. “I can't ask for more, but I want a little more.“I thought the crowd was so nice to me today. Konta played so well, no point was easy. I just tried to climb on top each time, to get another point, and wow, it was over."

While most of the talk leading into the final is surrounding the historic milestone that Williams is on the verge of capturing, Garbine Muguruza deserves similar plaudits for the tennis she has been playing this week on the lawns of SW19 - especially when you consider her last match before Wimbledon was a crushing 6-1 6-0 loss in the first round of Eastbourne to Barbora Strycova.

Garbine Muguruza (Photo by FRANK AUGSTEIN/AFP/Getty Images)6x5x4x3xWith coach Sam Sumyk absent this fortnight for personal reasons, Muguruza has thrived under the guidance of 1994 Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez, who incidentally was the last female from Spain to lift the Wimbledon title. Muguruza has been in intimidating form at The Championships, particularly from the R16 onwards, knocking out World No. 1 and last year’s runner-up Angelique Kerber in a quality three set encounter before toppling Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3 6-4 and demolishing first-time slam semi-finalist Magdalena Rybarikova 6-1 6-1 in an emphatic display of aggressive grass court tennis.

"I wasn't expecting anything because you never know how it's going to go," Muguruza said after after beating Rybarikova on Friday. "I saw her play before. I saw she was playing very good, very talented."I just expected myself to be ready as much as I could. Maybe the score did look maybe more easier than actually playing during the games."

It’s so easy to forget that Muguruza is still only 23 years of age and will be the second youngest member of the top 10 on Monday when the new rankings are released. Expectation naturally increased following her stunning maiden slam triumph at the French Open last year, and while the Spaniard struggled to deal with consistency and the brighter spotlight for most of the 12 months afterwards, the bottom line is that she’s advanced to three grand slam finals at just 23, which is an incredible achievement. Indeed, if Muguruza wins on Saturday, half of her career titles will be grand slams (her other two pieces of silverware came at Hobart in 2014 and Beijing in 2015).

Williams and Muguruza have played four times previously on tour. Williams won their first three meetings, but Muguruza won their last clash on the clay of Rome just a couple of months ago. This will be their first encounter on grass and it promises to be a thrilling display of power tennis. There’s no doubt the ultimate narrative here is Williams completing a dream run by becoming the oldest player in the Open Era to win a grand slam title, but Muguruza - in this sort of form - will provide a more than formidable challenge. Both players have been so impressive this fortnight, but I think this is Muguruza’s time. Expect a quality three-set battle with the Spaniard edging it in a thriller.

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