Wimbledon 2016: Can Garbine Muguruza be the new face of women's tennis?


Wimbledon 2016: Can Garbine Muguruza be the new face of women's tennis?
The triumph of Garbine Muguruza at the French Open final in May has been heralded as a new era for women's tennis, with the smiling Spaniard being seen as a natural successor to superstars Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams.

At Roland Garros, as at Wimbledon last year when she was runner-up, Muguruza has caught the attention of both fans and the media for her power and athleticism on the court, and her breezy demeanour off it.

Such a combination leaves the charismatic 22-year-old well placed not only for a successful playing career, but also as a potential favourite for sponsors.

"Her reach can be universal," says Fernando Soler, head of the tennis division at her agents IMG. "The goal is to turn Garbine into a global star and she is helping herself with her on court performance."

He says there is a delicate balancing act that needs to be achieved, between allowing the player enough time to focus on travelling, training and competing at the top level, and her commercial obligations.

"Quality over quantity is the formula here," he says. "We want to make sure we are using her time wisely when working with sponsors, which is why partnering with the right brands is optimal, so that both parties can get the best out of each other."

One of the commercial benefits of being a tennis player is the global reach of the sport and worldwide interest in its top stars.

This year Muguruza will play in about 20 tournaments across Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.

Wimbledon 2016: Can Garbine Muguruza be the new face of women's tennis?

She will receive extensive fan and media attention around those events, particularly during the four Grand Slams, appearing not only in the sports pages but also the fashion and lifestyle ones.

For example, during the French Open, fashion bible Vogue analysed her hair, dubbing it the "best bombshell hair" in women's tennis, praising her for the same "no-nonsense tack" she brings to both her flowing locks and the game.

While men's tennis in Spain has flourished in recent years, most notably with the success of Rafael Nadal, the country has lacked a serious female contender since the days of Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Conchita Martinez in the 1990s.

"Ultimately her strongest market will be in Spain and Europe, but she is also very popular in South America as her mother is from Venezuela," says Soler.

Her commercial potential should receive another boost later this year when she represents Spain at the Rio Olympics, spreading her reach further into South America.

The player is a keen user of social media and even has her own app - Garbinesapp.com - which she is very active on. Social media allows her to "remain authentic" to fans, says Soler.

The WTA player of the month for May, Muguruza aims to go one better at Wimbledon and win this year.

"That is the goal and the dream," says Soler.



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