BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Two-time Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza isn't lacking confidence as she starts the buildup to defending her Wimbledon title.
"I believe I can win the trophy again," said the 24-year-old Spaniard, despite playing on grass — a surface she hasn't always liked.
"The tricky part (of grass) is adapting the body and movement. Other surfaces are more comfortable for the body," Muguruza said. "You have to run in a certain way. The ball bounces less, the balls are heavier, the court is faster … But I think my movement and physical capacity and strength, all have improved a lot."
Muguruza faces Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia in their opener at the grass-court Nature Valley Classic, which starts Monday in Birmingham, two weeks before Wimbledon.
Muguruza said "hopefully I'll get as many matches as possible" in Birmingham as preparation for Wimbledon.
"It meant such a lot to win Wimbledon, because I had lost in the final before (in 2015) and I didn't know if I could do it … it's special to go back as defending champion. But I am not thinking about it too much, and I am taking it just naturally. Nothing really matters, whatever happens to me."
Muguruza won the 2016 French Open but lost to Simona Halep in the semifinals earlier this month at Roland Garros. She won the Wimbledon title last year with a 7-5, 6-0 win over Venus Williams.
Muguruza said she will take Wimbledon one match at a time.
"There are seven matches and two weeks," Muguruza said. "You come and think about your first match, your first training, your first practice. And little by little you move forward".
But that approach still requires overcoming any inhibitions about grass.
Muguruza said she feels like Rafael Nadal and, further back, Chris Evert, whose tennis upbringing was on very different surfaces from grass but who successfully adapted to win Wimbledon singles titles — Nadal (2) and Evert (3).
"I didn't like it for sure (when I first came)," Muguruza said. "It's very different. There are no grass courts in Spain. It took two or three years to be more positive. Now I enjoy it."