Garbiñe Muguruza was last seen on a tennis court back in January when she was eliminated from the WTA 250 in Lyon by Linda Noskova, losing in straight sets 6-1, 6-4. A fortnight earlier, she had slumped to a 6-3, 6-7, 1-6 first round defeat to Elise Mertens at the Australian Open – a tournament which she entered unseeded for the first time since 2020.
It was the moment when the 29-year-old decided to take stock of her situation. Her last victory was at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in September 2022. Since that win over Despina Papamichail in the first round, Muguruza has suffered six straight defeats.
It has been a long gradual decline for a player who was ranked No.1 in the world in September 2017. Now, she doesn’t even feature in the Top 100 – she has continued to slide down the order so far that she is now ranked 272nd with just 244 points.
She explained her decision to take a year away from tennis at the Chamartín Tennis Club in Madrid in July when she received the Royal Order of Sports Merit Gold Medal. “At the moment, I don’t know when I will return. It took some bravery to decide to stop, something that I found difficult to do but I am happy. I haven’t set a date for my return, but I am sure that it won’t be this year because I want to spend time with my family. It is not a definitive goodbye, just a sabbatical year. I don’t miss the competition, but I do miss winning. I need to rest. I continue to play and go to the gym, I don’t want to lose fitness. My day-to-day routine is much more relaxed, knowing that I don’t have to compete,” Muguruza told reporters.
2023 written off, back in 2024
With those words, Muguruzamade it clear that she will not be returning to competition this season, despite her original plan which was to sit out this year’s clay and grass swings. “I need to feel calmer, I am not missing competing. Taking a break has done me the world of good. Competition is gratifying but tough,” said the former world No.1, and winner of two Grand Slams (Roland Garros 2016 and Wimbledon 2017).
While no date has been set for her return, Garbinemight be looking at the first three ATP tournaments of 2024 to restart her career – the Australian Open (15 January), Indian Wells (6 March) or Miami Open (20 March).