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Beyond the Baseline

Best photos of the WTA Championships

Serena-Williams-12 Serena Williams went undefeated over two years at the WTA Championships. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images Sport

After three enthusiastic years as host to the WTA Championships, Istanbul will pass the baton to Singapore in 2014. Istanbul saw the whole gamut of the WTA in its three-year tenure, with every year punctuated by dominance. Petra Kvitova cemented her status as a player to watch in 2011, when she sealed her break-out season with an undefeated run to the title. While the kids ruled the sandbox that year, Serena Williams took the time to heal from injuries and illness to eventually launch a two-year campaign that saw her return to the top of the women's game. In the two years she competed at the Istanbul-hosted event she never lost a match, going 10-0 and losing just three sets.

The downside to that dominance was a general lack of top-quality match-ups at the year-end event each year. That's not to say there wasn't drama. The 2012 edition featured two marathon three-set battles that saw Victoria Azarenka defeat Angelique Kerber 6-7 (9), 7-6 (2), 6-4 in over three hours, which was followed by Maria Sharapova's famous "Run! Run! Run!" match against Agnieszka Radwanska, which she won  5–7, 7–5, 7–5 as the clock hovered around 2:00 am. Then there was this year's Championships, which limped to finish line. Sharapova withdrew with a shoulder injury, Azarenka came in with a beat up psyche and left with a bungled back, and Serena was running on empty trying to finish out her season.

So as enthusiastic as Istanbul has been, it's the right time for the WTA Championships to move on. Ticket sales were down this year -- though they did set a single-session record on the day of the final -- and the rabid enthusiasm we saw over the first two years seemed to have been tempered by a "been there, seen that" mentality. Tennis fans loved what Istanbul was able to do with the WTA's crown jewel tournament, which considering how tough it is to please fans, that might be Istanbul's biggest success of all.

Here's a final look back at some of the best photos from Istanbul.

Serena-Williams-8

(BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Li-Na-4

(OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)

Petra-Kvitova-3

(BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Serena-Williams-10

(BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Petra-Kvitova-4

(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Agnieszka-Radwanska-1

(Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Victoria-Azarenka-4

(Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Li-Na-5

(Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Sara-Errani-1

(Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Angelique-Kerber-3

(BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Jelena-Jankovic-4

(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Serena-Williams-13

(BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

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