In victory or defeat, this tennis season belonged to Serena Williams. She spurred global chatter throughout, chasing the Grand Slam all the way to the final Friday of the United States Open in September, when Roberta Vinci shockingly stopped her short.
But Williams, by her own choice, is not playing at the WTA Finals this week in Singapore. In her absence, that elite tournament feels less like a fitting end to a fascinating season and more like a spectacle unto itself.
It remains unclear to what extent Williams’s decision was prompted by physical problems or how much the emotional fallout of her unsuccessful run to the Grand Slam played a role. She cited both as factors in her withdrawal announcement, which came more than three weeks before the Finals.