Venus Williams (+110) vs Garbine Muguruza (-120)
We knew when Serena Williams withdrew from Wimbledon that we were going to have a fun tournament. The world #1 and most dominant athlete in sports dropping out clears up a whole side of the draw and opens the tournament up to a world of new possibilities. Venus Williams certainly had fun, dropping her first set of the tournament (to world #55 Wang Qiang) and then not one more on her way to the final, bulldozing through Jelena Ostapenko, flattening British hopeful Johanna Konta, and generally looking unstoppable.
Garbine Muguruza also dropped only one set (to world #1 Angelique Kerber) and won in dominating fashion against all her other opponents, including world #8 Svetlana Kuznetsova. In her semi-final against Magdalena Rybarikova, Muguruza won almost two thirds of the points played, lost only two games, and defensively dismantled an opponent who was serving even faster than she was (and almost as fast as Williams).
I love Muguruza’s playing style, which is to say that I’ve always been a fan of strong, flat groundstrokes that come from both sides and lead into an aggressive attack at the net. It’s particularly suited to Wimbledon, where grass courts reward pace and aggression, and exceptionally suited to create an exciting match with Venus Williams, who plays a broadly similar game. Two aggressive players hammering away from all over the court is a fun, exciting way to end a fun, exciting tournament.
The two have played four times before, with the American winning the majority of their meetings but the Spaniard winning the most recent. Their match in Rome strung out to three sets, but that was on clay, a much slower surface that requires a totally different style of play. The two have never played each other on grass before, and Williams has won every one of their matches on hard court. Hard court is the best comparison available, but to find a completed match between these two on the surface, you have to go back three years, to when Muguruza was 19 years old. Not the best data point to go on.
Sportsbooks have Muguruza as the slight favorite, listing her at -120 (5/6), and Williams at +110 (11/10). That’s a pretty sound line; this will certainly be a tight match and, while it’s hard to bet against a five-time Wimbledon champion, the last time a 37-year-old won the tournament was back in 1908 when Centre Court was just a putting green. Muguruza is 23, won the French Open just last year, and is showing more consistency in 2017 than ever before. That said, this is going to be a very tight match, with little or no obvious advantage (or value) on either side of the net. Getting a little better payout on Williams makes her the better play, value-wise.
Value bet: Williams (+110)