The final months of the season saw stellar performances from a number of new talents, but it was a familiar star that shone the brightest.
WTA Staff

The final months of 2012 witnessed the coming of age of a few of the tour's brightest talents as well as the re-emergence of a few familiar names. However, inevitably, it was the irrepressible Serena Williams who had the final say.

With a number of big names taking a well-earned break in the weeks following the US Open, the stage was clear for the WTA's up-and-coming stars to shine, with Kirsten Flipkens, Irina-Camelia Begu and Hsieh Su-Wei obliging with victories at the International events in Québec City, Tashkent and Guangzhou.

There was also success for Caroline Wozniacki and Nadia Petrova, who laid the foundations for an end of season flourish with wins in Seoul and Tokyo. Meanwhile, at the final Premier Mandatory event of the year, the China Open, Victoria Azarenka finally made her return to the winner's circle, romping home to the title without dropping a set and defeating arch rival Maria Sharapova in the final.

It was her first title since Indian Wells in March and she did not have to wait long for another, lifting the trophy in Linz just seven days later.

And the world No.1 was not the only one finding the echoing indoor arenas of Europe to her liking; Wozniacki won an entertaining Moscow final against Sam Stosur, while Venus Williams saw off Monica Niculescu to win her first tournament in over two and a half years in Luxembourg.

Wozniacki came close to making it a hat-trick of late-season titles when she reached the final of the Qatar Airways Tournament Of Champions Sofia, but was denied by an on-song Petrova.

In doubles, the standout pairing was Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, whose late season run brought titles in Beijing and Moscow, but came too late to see them sneak into the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul 2012.

Instead, it was another Russian duo who took top honors at the season's finale, with Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova seeing off Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka in the final.

The singles in Istanbul, as with most of the big events in the second half of 2012, was all about Serena.

Despite having not played a competitive match since the US Open final, Serena looked as good as ever, waltzing through a round robin group that contained Azarenka, Li Na and Angelique Kerber, before producing a domineering performance to overcome marathon woman Agnieszka Radwanska and book a final appointment with Sharapova.

The final was a similar story, with Williams imperious as ever behind the serve and quick to pounce on any lapses from her Russian foe. After an hour and a half on court, she had arrived at match point, delivering the coup de grâce with one final crushing forehand winner.