A little over a year ago, Garbine Muguruza defeated Serena Williams in straight sets to claim the 2016 French Open title and notch the first grand slam crown of her young career.
Now, the 23-year-old has her sights set on repeating her Roland Garros win and pushing on to claim more consistent success at the top of the women’s game.
“Tennis is what I’ve always wanted to do so it is my dream to be on top,” world No.5 Muguruza tells CNN.
“That is why I work everyday and it is my dream so I really [want] to achieve it,” she adds
With the long-dominant Williams taking time out of the game to have her first child and current No. 1 Angelique Kerber struggling for form, back-to-back Paris successes are far from an unrealistic goal.
Although Muguruza has failed to win a tournament since defeating Williams at Roland Garros 12-months ago, she believes she has learned valuable lessons in dealing with high pressure moments.
The Spaniard also reached the 2015 Wimbledon final when she was beaten by Williams.
“I learned from all the matches I played against her (Williams),” she says. “I learned that if you want something you’ve got to really go for it, try to put the nerves aside.”
Eyes on the prize
Yet Muguruza is not alone in eying the big prize in Paris over the coming weeks.
Among those who will see themselves as strong contenders is Romania’s Simona Halep.
Aged 25 and currently ranked No. 4 in the world, there can be few players enjoying a more fruitful clay-court season.
Halep won the Madrid Masters 1,000 event earlier this month and followed that up by reaching the final of the Rome Masters.
Having won the juniors event in Paris as a teenager back in 2008, she also retains an affection for the French capital.
“I love the city, I feel like home there and also because of the juniors. I won the juniors there … (and that) makes me feel more comfy on court.”
“We’re going to see, I really wish to play the final there again in French Open. Hopefully one day I can lift that trophy,” she adds.
According to Halep’s coach, Darren Cahill, his player’s form puts her in a strong position to claim her own first grand slam crown.
“I think any time you go into a big tournament with a little bit of confidence and having won a big tournament like Madrid it can only help.
“But in the end it’s still seven matches over two weeks, you need a little bit of luck to grind yourself through some tough matches.
“It’s never easy but from a confidence point of view, from a physical point of view, she’s in pretty good shape,” Cahill adds.