Garbine Muguruza: ‘Woman power is great but I feel bad to say I want to have a family’

Garbine Muguruza
Garbine Muguruza arrives at the Laureus World Sports Awards shortly after announcing her retirement - JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Image

Garbiñe Muguruza is anticipating the question. She is a former world No 1, French Open and Wimbledon champion, and yet has just announced her retirement aged 30. People are inevitably going to wonder: what’s next?

But the question is already starting to grate. “People expect a great answer from me, I’m leaving tennis because I’m going to do this or that, I’m going to go into business, I’m going to develop a cookie – whatever it is,” she says. “No. I’m leaving tennis because I’m looking forward to being with my loved ones, making a trip without my tennis rackets, probably building a family, getting a dog. I just want to do nothing.”

It is not hugely surprising. Muguruza has spoken about finding nomadic life on tour taxing. Her retirement news comes after a year-long break, a decision she took after a slew of chastening results.

She travelled to the Maldives, attended film festivals and got engaged to Spanish-Finnish businessman Arthur Borges. Most of all, she realised she did not miss competing. Nor did she have any particular desire to pursue anything else. But saying that out loud remains a taboo for women, she says.

“Oh my god, I do feel that woman power is great, but I feel bad to say sometimes that I want to be home and maybe have a family, take care of my kids,” she says, growing animated. “It’s like bad nowadays to say something like that. It feels like always I have to say I want to be a businesswoman, I’m going to be a role model.

“My father always says to me, ‘Garbiñe, don’t forget to live life. You don’t have to be the queen of Spain – relax’. And it’s true, there’s all this pressure, all these questions about what you’re going to do next and it’s just like…” she puts her hands up as if to say stop, and exhales loudly.

There is some sadness in stepping away for good, but Muguruza says there is mostly happiness and relief too. She achieved more than most. Born in Caracas to a Venezuelan mother and Spanish father, Muguruza had one of the more complete games on tour. She will be remembered for her flashes of huge success, in particular between 2016 and 2017 when she won both her slam titles. She reached two other finals, and there was also an unexpected WTA Finals win in Guadalajara in 2021.

Garbine Mugriza with the Venus Rosewater Dish
Muguruza won the second of her grand slam singles titles at Wimbledon in 2017 - Reuters/Matthew Childs

She stands alone as the only woman to have beaten both Serena and Venus Williams in grand slam finals, something of which she is particularly proud. “Oh yes, I love that,” she says. “They were my idols. For whatever reason it means more to beat them. Other players are amazing too, but for me beating them had an extra value, winning a slam beating Serena or Venus.”

Wimbledon was particularly memorable, as she had long-time coach Conchita Martínez – the last Spanish woman to win at the All England Club – in her box that fortnight. They remain close, and after making her big announcement at the Laureus Awards in Madrid over the weekend, Muguruza celebrated with Martínez over dinner.

Garbine Muguruza and Conchita Martinez hug
Muguruza and Conchita Martinez (right), who forged such a productive partnership, are still close - Getty Images/Matthew Stockman

Meanwhile, across town this week, compatriot Rafael Nadal will be at the Madrid Open on his quest to eke one last season out of his ailing 37-year-old body. That juxtaposition is not lost on Muguruza, she understands that it may seem strange for a player to step away from the sport relatively prematurely and without much fanfare. “I’m not that type of person that could play knowing it’s my final match,” she says. “I couldn’t play tennis, I’d be crying! It must be so hard when you’re a living legend like Rafa. It’s harder when you’re that big.”

Muguruza’s career had many highs, but she says loneliness was something she found particularly difficult. It is one of the main reasons she is retiring. The packed schedule is something she would change about tennis if she could. “Whether you win or lose then you go to your hotel room, you close the door and there’s no one,” she says. “That’s it. The end of the day. Over the years you think, ‘Wow, I wish I could share this craziness with more people’. You don’t have time to digest. It’s a frenetic lifestyle.”

This relentlessness is something Naomi Osaka and Ash Barty have described too, with Barty opting for early retirement when she was world No 1. Does Muguruza think tennis is particularly tricky for top female players? She shakes her head. “I never felt that way. I felt very lucky to play tennis, it’s a popular sport and we have better sponsors, tournaments, more prize money. I’ve trained around many other athletes from different sports and I saw how hard it was for them. They didn’t have the same opportunities. I was like, ‘man, I don’t care if I’m criticised’. I’m so lucky.”

That sense of gratitude is palpable as she embarks upon her next steps. No, before you ask, not anything hugely ambitious. First up, getting a pug. “I love them, I’m obsessed,” she says, smiling broadly.

The 25th Laureus World Sports Awards took place on Monday, April 22 in Madrid, celebrating the leading names in sport from across the globe. To find out more, visit