Danielle Collins discussed her choice to retire from professional tennis at the end of this season, expressing her desire to return to a 'normal life' away from the constant travel and public attention.
The 30-year-old Collins, who is a former World No.7 and Australian Open runner-up, announced last month that 2024 would be her final season on the tour. On Tuesday in Abu Dhabi after an opening-round, straight-sets win against Naomi Osaka, she elaborated on her decision.
“Earlier this year around the holidays I decided this would be my last season,” she said. “I’m feeling really happy about it and looking forward to it.
“I haven’t been on tour that long, compared to some of the other players. Because I did go the college route, so I didn’t really start on tour until I was 22. In some ways it seems like it was just yesterday when I started playing and in other ways it seems like I’ve been out here for an eternity.”
Collins noted the travel component of the job has presented challenges at times, especially for a player coming from a consistent home life.
“I certainly love my job and it’s been a rollercoaster of fun emotion,” she said. “And there are also times that aren’t as fun. But just like with anything, you have that.
“At this point I feel like I’m ready for the next chapter, and I’m really excited about it. I needed to have an end date and it gives my family and friends the ability to come support me in some final tournaments. I think that will be really special.”
Collins won the NCAA championship twice while playing college tennis for University of Virginia after transferring from University of Florida.
She turned pro in 2016. Three years later, she revealed she had been diagnosed with the autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis. In 2021, she underwent emergency surgery to treat endometriosis.
Collins said her health problems did not play a factor in her decision to retire.
“Even though I have had a lot of challenges previously, this is the best that it’s been,” she said. “I finally got to the point where I’ve been able to manage it well and been able to take care of my body, manage around the cycles and all of that fun stuff. I just feel like I’m getting to that stage in life where I’m ready for something new.”
In Australia last month, Collins expressed her desire to have children. With many players now returning to the tour after becoming mothers, does Collins see herself making a comeback?
“I mean never say never,” she said. “I certainly love tennis and enjoy what tennis offers to my life and so I’d never say never. But it’s hard to really envision that right now. I guess I’m more just kind of focused on getting over that final hurdle.”
While her mind is set for now, Collins insists she is treating this season with the same discipline and seriousness she has adopted throughout her career. Currently ranked 71, she is looking to move up the charts to avoid some of the daunting draws she has been handed this campaign (her second round in Abu Dhabi against Elena Rybakina will be her fourth consecutive main-draw match against a Grand Slam champion). She’s also signing up for tournaments she typically enjoys so she could play them one last time.
“At this point, I could have easily not come over here and not played tournaments and just focused on the US swing or just getting ready for French Open or something like that,” Collins said.
“But I really wanted to get more matches and compete. I’m still playing, so it’s not over yet. At some point this year it will be, but not right now.”
Collins has yet to reveal her post-retirement plans but dismissed the idea of managing other athletes when it was brought up in her press conference.
“I think probably something away from sports is probably more likely, but I don’t know exactly what,” Collins said. “And I think there will be a period of time where I step away from the public eye a little bit because I did like my normal life a lot.”