Outsiders queue to fill power vacuum in women's tennis

Four different Grand Slam winners, Kim Clijsters' freak accident on the dance floor and another Serena Williams US Open rant.

Updated: December 23, 2011 13:23 IST
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Paris: Four different Grand Slam winners, Kim Clijsters' freak accident on the dance floor and another Serena Williams US Open rant.

There may be a power vacuum in the women's game, with world number one Caroline Wozniacki still to win a major, but 2011 was far from dull as Li Na, Petra Kvitova and Samantha Stosur all joined Clijsters in the Grand Slam winners enclosure.

Li's French Open triumph, the first major singles crown captured by a Chinese player, was secured by a 6-4, 7-6 (7/0) victory over defending champion Francesca Schiavone.

It also sparked hopes of a revolution in the game in China as well as a huge commercial windfall.

"For me it is a dream come true. I think it will do a little bit to improve tennis in China because more children think 'Okay, maybe someday I can do the same or even better than her'," said the 29-year-old, who had seen off Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals.

But as the year progressed, Li's dreams became the stuff of nightmares.

The girl from Wuhan suffered a second round exit at Wimbledon despite holding two match points against powerful German Sabine Lisicki and a first round loss to Romanian teenager Simona Halep at the US Open.

Li, who had started 2011 by finishing runner-up to Clijsters at the Australian Open, ended it with a first round loss in front of her adoring home fans in Beijing and a tame group stage exit at the WTA Championships.

The season-ending finale in Istanbul was won by Kvitova, the 21-year-old who defeated red-hot favourite Sharapova at Wimbledon 6-3, 6-4 to become only the third Czech woman to triumph at the All England Club after Martina Navratilova and Jana Novotna.

Kvitova finished the year by leading her country to the Fed Cup title as well as the number two place in the rankings.

Stosur, 27, out-played three-time champion Serena Williams 6-2, 6-3 to win the US Open.

Stosur became the first Australian woman to take the title in New York since Margaret Court in 1973, and the first to win a Grand Slam since Evonne Goolagong won Wimbledon in 1980.

For the Williams sisters, it was largely a year to forget.

Serena played her first tournament of 2011 in June at Eastbourne after battling injury and life-threatening blood clots.

She made the fourth round of Wimbledon, won titles in Stanford and Toronto before her spectacular meltdown in the US Open final where she was penalised for screaming 'c'mon' to accompany a blistering forehand while Stosur was shaping up for a return.

Officials fined her just $2,000 for the incident which left a particularly bad taste as Williams had promised to win the title on the day that the US marked the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

"I definitely wanted to win because of 9/11 and everything that New Yorkers and America has been through. It didn't work out the way I planned," said the American.

Big sister Venus ended the year at 104 in the world having played just four tournaments.

Her season ended after the first round of the US Open when the 31-year-old revealed she has been diagnosed with the auto-immune disorder Sjogren's Syndrome.

Clijsters, another tour veteran, had started 2011 with a first Australian Open title but a foot injury suffered while dancing at a friend's wedding contributed to a second round French Open exit.

The four-time Grand Slam title winner suffered an abdominal strain in Toronto which ruled her out of the US Open where she was the double defending champion.

The 28-year-old had also pulled out of tournaments in Rome and Madrid with right shoulder and wrist injuries before skipping Wimbledon because of a foot injury.

Sharapova didn't win a major and finished her season by limping out of Istanbul with an ankle injury.

But the Russian star didn't suffer financially as she raked in $25 million in earnings, comfortably the highest-paid woman sportswoman in the world.

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  • Petra Kvitova
  • Tennis
  • Caroline Wozniacki
  • Kim Clijsters
  • Novak Djokovic

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