PARIS — For almost two hours, Serena Williams and Garbiñe Muguruza hammered tennis balls back and forth over the net, each one answering the other’s power with power of her own, until the final point.
Williams had fired a backhand down the line, directly in front of Billie Jean King, who was watching from the front row. Then she forced Muguruza deep into the other corner.
Muguruza saw Williams lurking at the net, after all the grunting and power tennis, the quick rallies and go-for-broke shots, and she suddenly changed course. Backed into a defensive corner, she lifted a gentle, arching topspin lob that curled into the sky and fell back to the red clay inside the baseline for match point.
At first there was no sound, no call from the lineswoman or the chair umpire. The precious moment that Muguruza had been waiting most of her life for was stalled in some kind…