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WTA final ends drab year in women's tennis

A large poster shows the competitors in the WTA championship finals in Istanbul, Turkey, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011, on the facade of the tournament venue, the Sinan Erdem sports hall
AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda
A large poster shows the competitors in the WTA championship finals in Istanbul, Turkey, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011, on the facade of the tournament venue, the Sinan Erdem sports hall
A large poster shows the competitors in the WTA championship finals in Istanbul, Turkey, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011, on the facade of the tournament venue, the Sinan Erdem sports hall
AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda

The season-ending WTA championships in Turkey brought down the curtain on a drab year in women's tennis. The reigning No. 1 bellyflopped again, the glamour girl pulled out injured again, and the elite field of top 8 players was more notable for its absences then its roster.

Where was Serena Williams? Injured half the year, didn't qualify.

Where was Kim Clijsters? Out injured since summer.

Where was Maria Sharapova, the highest earning female athlete in the world? Pulled out with a sore ankle after losing two round robin matches.

Injuries have been the story of the year - the real top two players, Serena and Kim, on the sidelines while lesser lights sneak in to grab a once-in-a- career title .

Poor little rich girl Caroline Wozniacki continues to go winless at the big tournaments. She will continue to face that annoying question at the after-match press conferences: Should you really be the No. 1 player if you've never won a grand slam?

Sharapova continues to frustrate. Yes she made progress on her comeback this year. But just when you think she's on track, she pulls up injured or her serve goes off.

Fresh faces: It was fun to see Li Na of China win the French Open. And Sam Stosur came back from last year's mammoth choke in the 2010 French final to grab this year's U.S. Open. But both tanked after their victories, as if even they themselves couldn't believe they deserved it. It's hard to see them challenging for No. 1 in 2012.

Which leads us to Petra Kvitova, the Wimbledon champ who reeled in the WTA Championship and the end-of season No. 2 ranking. To do it, she had to beat back a spirited comeback from Victoria Azarenka, the perennial on-the-cusp-of-glory girl. The Czech with Bette Davis eyes could become No. 1 with a strong showing at the Australian Open in January.

Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic holds up the Championship trophy after winning her Ladies's final round match against Maria Sharapova of Russia, July 2, 2011. Kvitova won 6-3 6-4. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill

Note to self: Try to be excited about this. Stop yawning. It's not her fault she has zero star power although she could help her cause by not shrieking after every winning point.

2012 may be the last year on the tour for the current stars. Serena, 30, and Venus, 31, say they're sticking around to play in the 2012 Olympics. Hard to see them playing after that, particularly with their increasingly fragile bodies. Ditto for Clijsters, who wants to get back on the mommy track.

Smells like the end of a golden era to me. If I worked in the WTA marketing division, I would be sweating bullets to figure out how to keep interest in the game with the B team.

WTA money leaders through Oct. 30
1. Petra Kvitova $5,145,943
2. Caroline Wozniacki $4,065,581
3. Victoria Azarenka $3,771,032
4. Li Na $3,709,139
5. Sam Stosur $3,476,153
6. Maria Sharapova $2,899,148
7. Vera Zvonareva $2,673,018
8. Agnieszka Radwanska $2,456,568
9. Kim Clijsters $2,325,741
10. Serena Williams $1,978,930
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    David Hancock is a home page editor for CBSNews.com.