Danielle Collins is on fire. She will anyway leave tennis at the end of the year.

Miami Gardens, Florida. Danielle Collins wants to make one thing perfectly clear. She’s serious about this whole thing about quitting tennis.

Actually.

The fiery 30-year-old Floridian, who reached the semifinals of the Miami Open, the closest thing she has to a local tournament on the tennis circuit, has heard all the skeptics.

Sloane Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion who has known and played against Collins since childhood, chalked it up to post-loss frustration when Collins blurted out for the first time that she was done this year after January’s heartbreaking three-set loss to Iga Swiatek in Australia. . Jared Jacobs, the coach who was in Collins’ box for the last two Grand Slams, still doesn’t fully believe he will do it.

“We’ll see,” he says.

Other friends on tour come up with a shrug and ask, “Because?” – partly because they know, health permitting, that she can be much better than them.

None of that matters. Not the scare she gave world number one Swiatek in Melbourne. Not his semi-final in a tournament just below Grand Slam level, nor the money he is leaving on the table in likely future earnings and sponsorships. It’s all been great, but it’s over now, or at least it will be at the end of the season.


Collins says she will leave tennis at the end of the year (Shi Tang/Getty Images)

“I’ve been doing this for a while,” he says, although relatively speaking he hasn’t. She has only played professionally for two seasons longer than Coco Gauff, who is 10 years her junior.

Whatever. You probably feel like a while has passed and you have other goals, other things you want to accomplish, other ways you want to spend your time besides traveling the world, living in hotel rooms, obsessing over the path of a deceased person. yellow ball and whether his rheumatoid arthritis will even allow him to go out on the field the next day. He wants to start a family, as soon as possible.

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“I loved what I did and the opportunity and the doors it opened for me, but it’s not easy and I’m a homebody,” says Collins, a 2022 Australian Open finalist. “I’m a simple person. I like watering my plants, walking my dog, going for morning coffee, and making sure the bed is made. I got my special laundry detergent and my little beauty items in the cabinets and my goodness, if I had to be home all the time, every day, I would never get tired of it. I like reading my book. It doesn’t take much to make me happy.”

Surfing and yoga help. More of that is on the way.

Now, this is probably a good time to point out that it would be a terrible idea for any of Collins’ upcoming opponents to confuse this with a lack of competitive fire at this point or the rest of the season. She still hits the ball with abandon, especially on the backhand, playing with that full-throttle style that can overwhelm her opponents, as Caroline Garcia, the world No. 23, did in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. Collins destroyed her in two clean sets, 6-3, 6-2, just days after Garcia beat Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff.

She was down a set and a break when Katie Volynets served for her match in Austin, Texas, last month. Her arthritis in her back had been so severe that she had to make sure to throw the ball in front of her because she couldn’t arch back on her serve.

It doesn’t matter. She rallied to win the second set and third set tiebreakers 6-0, deciding in what seemed like the final moments that, since she was already there in the gray cold, she might as well get the adrenaline out of the pain of her and win.

“There’s very little you can do when a powerful player gets angry,” Austin tournament director Christo van Rensburg said of Collins that day.


Collins, left, is in the quarterfinals of the Miami Open (Robert Prange/Getty Images)

On Monday, Collins spent 89 minutes dismantling Romania’s Sorana Cirstea in the round of 16, toppling her 6-3, 6-2 on Hard Rock Stadium’s cozy Butch Buchholz Family Court. There was a group of rowdy Romanian fans sitting courtside, cheering for Cirstea and criticizing Collins throughout the afternoon.

As Collins concluded the final point of the hard-fought but ultimately one-sided victory, he put a silencing finger to his lips as he walked to the net to shake hands. She grabbed her bag and left the stadium alone for the rest of the night. His box was empty. Without parents. No coach. She is flying alone. Keeping it simple, though it’s probably his last tournament in his home state, and his farewell season is certainly going much better right now than other players (Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray) trying to achieve a bit of glory in a finals campaign .

That’s how the dynamics have always been in the Collins family. Tennis is something she plays, not what it is, and her parents would be just as proud of her if she worked behind a cash register, she insists.

His mother was a preschool teacher and his father ran a small landscaping business. Her father, who made his living working in law until he retired last year at age 84, used to wake up and play with her before school, asking his friends to play her on the local courts in San Francisco. Petersburg, Florida.

But the family couldn’t afford the best coaches or take her around the country, let alone internationally, during her teenage years. Tennis was about getting an education, which she did, graduating from the University of Virginia as a two-time NCAA champion.

When he told his parents he had a chance to become a professional, they suggested he get a graduate degree. She has won more than $7 million in prize money, although she never felt like she was playing for anyone but herself.

His reaction to his planned retirement? Great, they want grandchildren.

“They’ll probably say, ‘It’s time,’” he says.

If I had not been a tennis player, this probably would have happened sooner, for reasons of desire and health. After years of doctors largely ignoring her complaints about heavy periods and intense menstrual cramps, she finally found one who listened to her and correctly diagnosed endometriosis, a disease in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus.

After undergoing surgery to remove the tissue, her doctor told her that getting pregnant could also help suppress the symptoms, but that didn’t really work for her career and she continued playing. After October, that will no longer be a concern.

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He still plans to travel and has already started. After being eliminated from the Australian Open, she and her boyfriend went on a hike in Tasmania among giant swamp gum trees. They are not as big as redwoods, but not far. She is planning a trip to South Africa in December.

Will you miss tennis?

Maybe? She’s the kind of professional who may enjoy the feel of her ropes on the ball against a weekend warrior, but is jealous of baseball, basketball and football players who travel on private and chartered planes and have games in home and long periods out of season. She wishes she had home games. She doesn’t have them, even though she has tennis courts at her house and more on the same street.

“If the tennis format was different, it would be a totally different story and I would probably reconsider,” he said of his impending retirement. “But the way this sport works is very difficult.”

(Top photo: Frey/TPN/Getty Images)