The 2011 Australian Open's evolving storyline for the ladies never ceased as one drama after another unfolded both on and off court.
First and foremost, Serena Williams, defending champion, still injured, decided to withdraw before the tournament Down Under got underway.
Sister Venus Williams hobbled briefly into Melbourne, eliminated when she could no longer move. At that point, the elder Williams retired in the third round against up-and-comer German Andrea Petkovic.
Svetlana Kuznetsova entertained all with the most thrilling matches of the tournament. The newly svelte Russian held on to defeat Justine Henin in the third round 6-4, 7-6.
Subsequently, Henin announced her second permanent retirement from professional tennis.
But the best match of the tournament followed in the fourth round as Kuznetsova met the feisty Italian Francesca Schiavone. The two veterans battled for four hours and 44 minutes making it the longest women’s match ever.
It ended with Schiavone winning 6-4, 1-6, 16-14.
The Italian, however, had nothing left when she met the No. 1 seed Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals.
The tournament ended with the crowning of Aussie Kim—her first championship in Melbourne.
The seasoned professionals, for the most part continued to give way to a new wave of hard-hitting ball-strikers working their way up the ranking.
A mix of the new with the "old" highlight our first Power Ranking of the 2011 season.