The 2001 tennis season was one that started in sunshine and ended in the shadows.
There was great excitement in the first half of the season as Jennifer Capriati and Goran Ivanisevic finally banished their Grand Slam demons.
Gustavo Kuerten and Lleyton Hewitt battled for the men's No. 1 ranking and Venus Williams dominated Wimbledon and the U.S. Open for the second straight year.
The ATP and WTA Tours' coffers were filled with sponsors. Their lineups were varied and exciting after years of drab predictability, and tournaments were doing well.
But, by the end of the year, tennis could not escape the world's woes. Tournaments were canceled due to security worries, players stayed home and endorsement deals fell apart.
In a career highlighted by dramatic comebacks, Capriati added another chapter in her remarkable renaissance, having turned herlife and career around after years of scandals and setbacks.
The American proved herself to be one of the sport's grittiest competitors at the Australian Open, when she plowed through the field -- including Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis in the last three rounds -- to claim her first major title.
"Who would have thought I would ever make it here?" Capriati said. "Dreams do come true. You have to believe in yourself. From here on, I always will have the belief in myself that I can
Capriati showed she could do a lot more a few months later when she won her second straight Grand Slam at the French Open. She survived the longest third set in women's Roland Garros history
beat Kim Clijsters, 1-6, 6-4, 12-10, and put her past to rest once and for all.
Finishing the season with three titles, Capriati, 25, briefly took over the No. 1 spot for the first time in her career in October -- seven years after a sabbatical caused her to fall out of the rankings completely.
"It's every kid's dream to be No. 1," said Capriati, the only player to reach at least the semifinals in all four majors. "For me, I think you can appreciate it more when you are older. When I look back on my career, I am very proud of the two Grand Slams I won this year, and obviously getting to No. 1.
"I have been more committed to the sport in the last few years,and in Australia this year I think everything clicked for me and since then I have been playing really well."
Alluding to the burnout and arrest on charges of shoplifting and possession of marijuana that forced her to leave the game in 1994 and 1995, she said, "I am also proud to come back to everything that has happened in my life, and just to enjoy
tennis and play this well. I think this shows everybody that it's never too late to realize your talent, or your dream. If you think positive and believe in yourself, good things are going to come."
Fortunately, it wasn't too late for Ivanisevic as well. The Croatian, who admits to having multiple personalities, was believed to be at the end of his career when the All-England Club awarded the three-time Wimbledon finalist a wild card into
this year's event.
It was a sentimental choice for a player who pondered leaving tennis earlier in the season because of poor results and continuing pain in his serving shoulder. Ranked No. 125 at the start of the fortnight, Ivanisevic needed wild cards for 10 of the 12 events he had played to date, even playing one Challenger event.
But. the unpredictable lefthander used his damaging serve and grasscourt prowess to get past big hitters Andy Roddick and Marat Safin, eliminated the British Davis Cup team of Greg
Rusedski and Tim Henman -- the last eliminated in a five-setter that spanned two days due to rain -- and dispatched last year's finalist Patrick Rafter.
Due to the weather, the men's final was played Monday before a raucous walk-up crowd, the type of fan base tennis powers dream of but rarely get due to corporate lockup of boxes. The atmosphere was perfect for Ivanisevic, who triumphed over Rafter
in a five-set thriller to avoid joining Ken Rosewall as the only players to lose all four Wimbledon finals.
"(Wimbledon) was the only thing that saved me," the 30-year-old Croat said. "I was struggling bad and I wanted to finish my career the end of this year and then Wimbledon saved me."
The only thing that could stop Venus Williams was herself. For the second straight year, she started off slow due to injuries.
Last season it was tendinitis in both wrists, this year it was a knee ailment.
It also caused a controversy at the Tennis Masters Series event in Indian Wells when she pulled out of her semifinal encounter with sister Serena at the last minute with the injury, but was
healthy enough to win the Ericsson Open in the next event.
After defeating Serena in the women's U.S. Open final, the first time in the Open era that
sisters met in a Grand Slam championship match, Venus was kept at home, first by strife and then by pain.
The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States came just two days after the U.S. Open wrapped up in New York. Many players, including the Williams sisters, chose to stay at home
to be with their families.
Williams also was grounded by the security concerns that kept the American Federation Cup team from trying to win its third straight title. She later missed the year-ending tournament
with knee woes, a claim that was investigated by the WTA.
Despite splitting the four Grand Slams, neither Capriati nor Williams was able to snag the year-end No. 1 ranking. Capriati did not have the consistency, while Williams did not play enough
Hingis held the ranking for much of the year, although she had not won a Grand Slam since January 1999 or a tournament since February. An injury stopped the 21-year-old from Switzerland
from mounting a strong defense for the top spot which ultimately was claimed almost by default by Davenport, who did win a tour-high seven titles.
Kuerten and Hewitt vied for the men's top honors for most of the year, along with Andre Agassi, who won his seventh career Grand Slam at the Australian Open and three other titles but spent the latter part of the season building a family with new wife Steffi Graf.
The new "King of Clay," Kuerten captured the French Open title for the second straight year and third time in five years. He proved himself on hard courts as well, winning his sixth tournament of the year in Cincinnati.
But his season fizzled after he was routed in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open by Yevgeny Kafelnikov, starting a stretch where he won just once in 10 matches to close out 2001.
That left the door open for Hewitt, who went from infamous to victorious in less than two weeks at the U.S. Open. He was believed to have made a racist comments during a second-round five-set victory over James Blake, pointing out the shared black ethnicity of a linesmen and his opponent to an umpire while arguing a foot fault.
Badgered by the media about the incident for days afterwards, Hewitt denied making racially motivated remarks and began to play the best tennis of his life. Through the final two rounds
he was brilliant, dropping just 12 games in crushing Kafelnikov and Pete Sampras to gain his first Grand Slam crown.
In November, the aggressive Australian became the youngest men's player to finish the year at No. 1 en route to winning the year-ending Tennis Masters Cup, his sixth title of the year.
The youth movement was in full force on both tours. Roddick, 19, won three titles this year, easing the blow of Sampras' decline. Sampras reached the final in New York but failed to
win a tournament for the first time since 1989. He and Roddick are expected to be Davis Cup teammates for the U.S. next year.
Belgium became the hot new tennis country, winning the Federation Cup with the Americans staying home. Clijsters and Justine Henin each reached their first Grand Slam final and won
While some players were trumpeting their arrival, many were saying good-bye. Nathalie Tauziat, Anke Huber, Alberto Berasategui, Magnus Gustafsson, Jason Stoltenberg, Slava Dosedel and Richard Fromberg were among those retiring. Rafter is taking a sabbatical to decide whether he will stop for good.
The loss of Rafter, one of the tour's most successful and popular players, is just one of the things that will hurt tennis in the future.
Swiss marketing firm ISL, which had a 10-year, $1.2 billion pact with the ATP for the marketing rights to its Tennis Masters Series events, filed for bankruptcy this year after it tried to
get out of its deal with the men's tour.
The WTA was without its biggest stars -- Venus and Serena Williams, Davenport, Hingis and Anna Kournikova -- for large stretches of the season and not one top-10 player fulfilled her proposed tournament commitments.
The tour's decision to move its year-ending showcase from Madison Square Garden in New York, where it was staged for 20 years, to Munich, Germany backfired when the event promoters
requested a restructuring of their current contract. Now the tour is looking at returning the tournament to America.
The events of Sept. 11 also hurt the tour. Three events were canceled, including the men's doubles championship in India, while the Davis Cup World Group qualifying tie between the U.S. and India was postponed a month.