You might know the name Danielle Collins by now. At the BNP Paribas Open last year, she burst onto the scene, battling her way through a difficult first round, defeating US Open finalist Madison Keys in the second, before running out of steam in the last 16. The run precipitated a massive rise that would eventually see her make her first Grand Slam semifinal just two months ago at the Australian Open. She returns to Indian Wells this year ranked No. 25 in the world and a feisty force to be reckoned with. Here’s a look into who she really is.
BNPParibasOpen.com presents Danielle Collins in her own words:
Since the juniors and until maybe a couple years ago, it was always Danielle “Rose” Collins.
My middle name Rose came from my grandma. She was a strong woman. Maybe that’s where I get it from.
It’s always easy to call somebody an underdog when they’re up and coming. To me, it’s kind of cliché, kind of corny. I’ve always been really feisty. I didn’t grow up with a lot of money and it was always a competitive household. That part of me is just who I am – a lot of people don’t like it, but that’s too damn bad.
Take my lead-up to the US Open back in 2014, for example. I’m 20-year-old Danielle ‘Rose’ Collins, a sophomore at UVA, recovering from wrist surgery. I had been having really bad wrist pain and people had kept telling me it was tendonitis and for months I just dealt with it. Finally, I got a different opinion from a doctor who asks, “Hey, when did you break your wrist?”
Yeah, I had a broken wrist.
But six weeks after surgery, I still went out on Arthur Ashe on that morning, nervous of course – I was playing my first Grand Slam ever in the biggest tennis stadium in the world – but without feeling like I had anything to lose. I just went for it. I took the first set off the world No. 2 Simona Halep, then played a really hard second and third set and fell a little bit short.
Before that match, I was like, “The worst thing that can happen is I lose and I get to go back to college and have a good time and if I win it’s going to be really cool and great.” Sure, I lost, but I really held my own and proved to myself and everyone else that I could compete with the best players in the world.
That seems like a long time ago.
It honestly wasn’t even my choice to drop the ‘Rose’ off my name when I went fully pro after college, somebody else did that. I guess they didn’t like my middle name? I don’t know what happened, but all of a sudden it was no more Danielle ‘Rose’ for me.
Two years ago in Indian Wells I got a wild card and got my butt kicked by Monica Puig. I had never played the tournament before and it’s totally different playing as a pro – when you’re playing for a living essentially, I mean it’s a job. It’s not like playing in college with nothing to lose. That moment really showed that I definitely needed more experience.
So, when I went into Indian Wells last year, I knew what to expect and had made a lot of improvements within my game.
I played Taylor Townsend in the first round. I had lost to her in a really close match before at an ITF 25k. I knew what to expect from her, knew the adjustments I needed to make. I was down in the first and second set, but I just hung in there, had a tight grip on my mental stuff and was able to get the job done in the end despite not playing my best tennis that day.
If you can get through a tough first round match like that, it gives you a ton of confidence going into the next rounds, knowing that you faced something that was a challenge and you were able to get through it. That, and telling myself, “Look, I’m getting to play professional tennis for a living and I get to be here in beautiful, sunny California and I really have nothing to be that angry about,” – that did the trick for me last year.
I really embrace competition. Whether it’s Forehead Fishing with my coach (yeah I’ve thrown pieces at him and told him to shut up), or Uno or bowling or whatever, I’m super fired up. I am who I am, ‘Rose’ or no ‘Rose’, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
Yeah, sure. Maybe one day we’ll see my grandma’s name make a comeback – but it’d be on the trophies. Until then, I’ve totally still got my thorns.
Before her match, Danielle Collins takes on our Walk and Talk from #TennisParadise
— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) March 9, 2019