MELBOURNE, Australia – It wasn’t exactly a “Marion Bartoli at the Cincinnati Open” moment – a retirement, out of the blue, from a newly-crowned Wimbledon champion in a most low-key and unlikely venue.
But as American Danielle Collins discussed the toughest of losses Thursday, a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 defeat to world No. 1 Iga Swiatek at the Australian Open in which she led 4-1 and two breaks of serve in the final set, she dropped a bombshell.
“Yeah, this is going to be my last season, actually, competing. I don’t really know exactly when, but this will be my last season and I’m really looking forward to that,” Collins said, after talking about the fact that this very tough defeat “didn’t sting quite as much” as she was “kind of at the end” of her career.
Collins’s career high of No. 7 came just a year and a half ago after she went from No. 30 to the top 10 on the strength of reaching the 2022 Australian Open final.
She defeated Swiatek in the semifinals that year, losing to Ashleigh Barty in a final that sent the Aussie into retirement – and motherhood. And Collins seemed on track to do it again as Swiatek was dealing with a bit of a knee issue she said had been bothering her since the WTA Finals last October.
But Collins flinched, just enough. And Swiatek ran the table in winning the last five games and moving onto a third-round clash with Czech teenager Linda Noskova.
A bumpy, but rewarding road
Collins, who starred as a collegiate tennis player but needed some time to get to the level of the sport she belongs in given her obvious talent, has always sort of prided herself on doing it on her own.
She wasn’t a hotshot junior. And players coming out college typically don’t get a lot of help in transitioning. And she hasn’t done much on the endorsement level despite the fact that she’s obviously a stunner.
Collins also has suffered a host of physical issues. She’s dealt with an endometriosis diagnosis. And, like fellow WTA player Caroline Wozniacki, has to deal with rheumatoid arthritis, which comes and goes and has meant that she occasional goes off the tour for periods of time.
At the moment, she’s ranked No. 62. Which is why she was unseeded and a second-round opponent for Swiatek in a match that was absolutely gangbusters most of the time.
“I think she’s a big hitter. Her game and her career speaks for itself. I think we all know what to expect against Iga. I had to try to counter that as much as I could, I did that well at many moments. You know, other moments it got away from me,” she said.
Collins turned 30 a month ago. Whenever the time is right, she’ll leave with no regrets.
“I feel like I’ve had a pretty good career. There has certainly been ups and downs to it, and I think the travel and some of the things away from the court with scheduling and all of that, this is a really tough sport,” Collins said.
“I have other things that I’d kind of like to accomplish in my life outside of tennis, and would like to be able to kind of be able to have the time to be able to do that, she added. “Obviously having kids is a big priority for me.”