WIMBLEDON, England — When this Wimbledon lacked its customary empress, its women’s singles event gained the description “wide-open” and had the chance to yield a final that would be weird, anonymous or even clunky.
It did not yield that final. It wound up with a proper slugfest.
If you think of it, Venus Williams and Garbine Muguruza looked headed for this meeting throughout the fortnight. They are ranked Nos. 15 (Muguruza) and 11 (Williams), but around here they have had the shine of Nos. 1 and 2. Each has lost one set. Muguruza has gone 54-4 in her service games and 17-0 in the past two matches; Williams has gone 59-6 and a frightening 38-2 in her past four matches. Muguruza rooted out a No. 1 player (Angelique Kerber) and a two-time Grand Slam champion (Svetlana Kuznetsova). Williams dismissed the French Open champion (Jelena Ostapenko), a British top-10 sensation (Johanna Konta) and three players born in 1997, including the 2016 newcomer of the year (Naomi Osaka).
It looks like it will be hard to get somebody to knuckle. “We both have very aggressive games,” said Muguruza, 23. So Williams, 37, the oldest Wimbledon female finalist since Martina Navratilova in 1994, will seek insight from that aforementioned empress.
Unusually for her, Williams did let on that she might just put in a scouting call to Serena Williams, her sister on a pregnancy hiatus, who edged Muguruza, 6-4, 6-4, in the 2015 Wimbledon final, the first of Muguruza’s three Grand Slam finals. “Yeah, Serena did play her in a final. I don’t know when that happened. I definitely will ask her. I’m sure she’s going to give me hopefully some things that will make a difference for me in the match.”
The X-factor there is the grass, on which Muguruza and Venus Williams have not played each other. Williams holds a 3-1 lead on other surfaces, with Muguruza’s only win coming in May on clay in Rome, in split sets. “That becomes definitely a different factor,” Williams said of the grass. “I’ll have to see what’s working.”
Fortunately for Muguruza, she isn’t still running around looking for a Grand Slam title in her third final. Even though she said here that she’s not sure how she found her way to that 2015 final, she already claimed the 2016 French Open final, 7-5, 6-4, over Serena Williams.
So she has reached three of the last nine Grand Slam finals, and on a women’s tour big on depth and short on margins among rankings, that’s a virtual dynasty (with Serena Williams an actual dynasty). “I think my mind is more equipped this time because the more experience you get, the more you know how to deal with these situations because they’re very special,” Muguruza said Friday. “If you felt it before, it’s really helpful. So I just have more information about the situation.”
Williams, in her 16th Grand Slam final and ninth at Wimbledon, has all the information about all the situations. On Friday, she remembered entering here, 20 chockablock years ago, when she played Magdalena Grzybowska of Poland and lost, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, in the first round. “I think I was nervous in my first match here. It was a total disaster. Poor young V,” she said. “… I don’t think I could ever be that nervous [now]. Also I know how to handle it a lot better. There’s moments when you aren’t as relaxed as other moments, but it’s about handling it.”
At a 20th Wimbledon that has seen her redefine the age 37 — “I don’t think I could be 37 and playing that level,” Muguruza said — Williams remembered watching the tournament as a child. “Yeah, I definitely grew up watching [Boris] Becker and [Stefan] Edberg. I remember that specifically. Obviously [Steffi] Graf. Was definitely a huge [Monica] Seles fan. I really enjoyed watching her. The year, too, that Zina [Garrison] got to the final  is amazing. So those are my memories.”
Of Becker, she said, “I loved his serve. He was playing big. I loved that. I was really young, so I don’t know if I had the focus to like really focus on the whole match. But I just liked how big he played.”
Decades on, a women’s event deemed wide-open wound up with two finalists who play big.