“You need to have resilience”: Garbiñe Muguruza on playing to win

·3-min read
Photo credit: Gianni Ciaccia
Photo credit: Gianni Ciaccia

A former world number one in the Women’s Tennis Association’s singles ranking, the Spanish tennis player Garbiñe Muguruza has won no fewer than 10 singles titles in her career to date, and also has an impressive track record in doubles. As she returns to Wimbledon this year, she shares insight into what keeps her motivated on the court and off…

Winning two Grand Slams was a dream come true for me. Those are the biggest tennis events in the world – you dream and work your whole career to one day be able to hold that trophy, and there are only a very few lucky ones who get to do that. It was a career highlight when I won the 2016 French Open, and the 2017 Wimbledon Championships was even more special, as it is on grass courts and a very rare tournament.

Photo credit: ©Rolex/Antoine Couvercelle
Photo credit: ©Rolex/Antoine Couvercelle

You definitely want to feel prepared for an important event like Wimbledon. Physically, it takes a lot, because grass is a very demanding surface, and you need to spend at least for three to four weeks getting your body ready and your legs strong. As a Grand Slam, it’s a tough event – long, and very competitive – so in terms of mental preparation, you want to arrive fresh, with all your homework done. That way, you can go out there with a free mind-set.

Staying calm and focused during a match is a lot about having the right routine. That means putting positive thoughts in your head and telling yourself repeatedly that you’re doing a great job. There isn’t really a secret to it: everybody feels tense and nervous, but you have to fight through it and accept whatever happens. The main thing is to be kind to yourself when you’re alone out there.

Everything in life is very difficult – especially if you want to succeed at the highest level. In sports, you definitely need to have resilience, because it’s a tough road to take. If it’s what you want to do, go for it, but know that you have to be the strongest out there, because you will have a lot of competition from people also wanting to be the best.

A defeat is always a low moment, but the good thing about tennis is that you’ll always have another chance to compete the following week. You can move forward and say, “OK, I have three or four days to train, and then I’ll be back in a competition.”

When you work this hard, celebrating success is very important, because that is the whole point of making sacrifices. My first major success was a good year that I had back in 2014 – I was so happy, and I wanted to reward myself for playing well. I knew exactly what I wanted, and it was a Rolex watch. Now, every time I look at it, I remember how good that year felt.

Playing doubles is a really different experience – you have to share the game, which is rare for us because we’re used to being alone out there. It is nice to have a companion on court, and to be able to talk to your partner when you have a low moment and go through it together. At the end of the day, tennis is a game, so having another person next to you just makes it more fun.

Photo credit: Clive Brunskill - Getty Images
Photo credit: Clive Brunskill - Getty Images

When you dream about winning, you dream about winning Wimbledon. There’s so much history, and it’s really special to play on the courts, with all those timeless rules and protocols they have in place. Wimbledon really is the major tournament.

Rolex is the Official Timekeeper for Wimbledon.

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