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Post-McEnroe era, tennis enthusiasts have begged for some out-of-the-box characters, some colour, some flair, to show more emotion and honesty. There was a fear that the game was becoming all too robotic and unauthentic - with Nick Kyrgios the obvious anomaly.

There are a few names that spring to mind on the men’s circuit that create an energy for the fans to draw upon. The likes of Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Bublik, and Ben Shelton have taken sports entertainment to a new level - but when it comes to the WTA tour, those types of personalities are rare to find.

Que Danielle Collins - predominantly known for her roaring and passionate screams of “COME ON” and “LET’S GO” to rile her up and uncover a new gear. Because of this, the American is a divisive figure in the game - yet funnily enough, it’s these types of characters that tennis fans crave.

Whilst Spanish icon Rafael Nadal’s ‘farewell tour’ may be grabbing all of the headlines and media attention (and understandably so for the champion he is) which has been in the making, Collins is quietly bowing out in her final year on the circuit in arguably the form of her life.

After her second-round loss to world No.1 Iga Świątek at this year’s Australian Open, the 30-year-old picked up her bag from the bench and bolted toward the media room in an obvious tactic to avoid further questions and revealed a shock retirement announcement.

“This is going to be my last season competing,” Collins told reporters after the defeat. “I don’t really know exactly when, but this will be my last season and I’m really looking forward to that.”

“I have other things that I’d like to accomplish in my life outside of tennis, and would like to be able to have time to be able to do that. Obviously having kids is a big priority for me.”

Coincidentally, it was Collins and Australia’s own Ash Barty who faced off in the Melbourne Park decider in 2022 - yet nobody in their wildest imagination could picture the duo hanging up the racquet at their respective ages of 30 and 26, as Barty also based her decision down to starting a family and soaking in the other joys of life that were restrained through travel commitments.

What isn’t a coincidence, however, is Collins rediscovering the level that saw her propel as high as world No.7 only a couple of seasons ago - knowing that the upcoming few months represent one final opportunity to leave everything out on the court with no regrets.

A second loss at the hands of Świątek this calendar year at Indian Wells (which is no shame), released the shackles to insert her fiery and energetic game style into results, winning back-to-back titles at the Miami Masters and on the clay in Charleston - the first woman to achieve that feat since Serena Williams back in 2013.

Two further victories at the Madrid Masters before a three-set defeat to Aryna Sabalenka ended a remarkable 15-match unbeaten streak that included scalps against Elena Rybakina, Ons Jabeur, Maria Sakkara, and Paula Badosa.

It remains astonishing how a little extra confidence and belief can elevate athletes to exceeding expectations, even at Collins’ stage of her career where retirement has been at the forefront of her mind for some time now.

We shouldn’t be surprised though. The Florida-born star learned her craft by taking the college route at the University of Virginia - a mature approach where Collins decided not to partake on the professional circuit until the age of 21 to help build an indestructible mentality shaping who she is today.

Speaking to CNBC in 2019, Collins admitted that “going to college gave me a little more time to mature and grow into the person I needed to be in order to have a successful career after my tennis journey.”

She may not present as the flashiest name, but Collins will walk away from tennis with all the respect in the world from her peers thanks to her never-say-die attitude and reluctance to always fight for every point.

Another upcoming retiree, Alizé Cornet, praised Collins after her quarter-final exit at Melbourne Park during the American’s run to the final:

“She’s like a lion. Oh my God, she impresses me because she’s so intense, I’m intense too but I think she’s next-level intense.” Cornet said.

15 consecutive wins only point to the solid conclusion that the former Australian Open finalist is now playing with no fear whatsoever. And that’s a daunting reality for the rest of the women’s field with one yet to truly stamp their authority consistently in 2024.

As expected, questions have been posed to Collins about potentially putting her retirement plans on hold - one of them surfaced after her Miami Open triumph. Her answer couldn’t have been more substantiated:

“I’m living with a chronic inflammatory disease that affects your ability to get pregnant, and so that’s a deeply personal situation,” she explained. “I think it’s a good question, but I think my choice is my personal choice.

“This is so much more to do than just tennis and my career. I’m enjoying my career. I’m having a lot of fun. I love coming out here and competing. But at the end of the day, this is a really big life decision, and I think that should be pretty understandable.”

The US Open will most likely be the last hurrah for a player who has given her heart and soul to the game she loves, and it will be a fitting way to end on the highest of highs.

Unlike other retirees who play toward the end for sentimental comfort, Collins is well within the hunt to cause another shock or two by the time she officially calls it quits.


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