Earlier this year, Danielle Collins revealed some heart-stopping news: a cyst a size of a tennis ball had been causing her severe pain for years. After undergoing endometriosis surgery to remove it, the 27-year-old American opened the start of the most inspirational chapter of her career.

Collins has experienced a rollercoaster of highs and lows since turning pro, and has dealt with her fair share of skeptics—but throughout it all, she has never veered off the path of her dreams.

The University of Virginia standout has nothing to prove to anyone, and it's perhaps the reason she's enjoyed a colorful career thus far on tour. Just last month at the Palermo Ladies Open, Collins claimed her first WTA title, and did so in dominating fashion, not dropping a set during her successful campaign.

"Sometimes when you win a tournament, you look at that week and you look at the matches, but I think it's a result of so much of the hard work that has gone into it, months and years before that," Collins tells Baseline.

"So, for me to win my first event and all the hard work that I put in over the years and much of what's been done on my own—it's just a really rewarding feeling."

The WTA 250 win was especially rewarding because she accomplished it without a coach or any assistance the last couple of months. When traveling and competing on your own, oftentimes self-doubt can creep in, but focusing on her dreams kept Collins motivated on the task at hand.

"I'm really proud of myself for being able to commit to the process and do it on my own and be motivated every day," Collins says.


Winning the NCAA women's singles championships not once but twice during her wasn't enough to shut some of Collins' doubters out. Many people didn't believe she could go far in the game's upper-most echelon, but what's most interesting is that Collins never acknowledged these individuals.

Having nothing at all to prove and just playing the game she loves, she remained focused on the positives, and looked to herself and supporters rather than the non-believers.

"I do it for myself, I don't do it for the people that hate me," Collins says. "It doesn't faze me one way or another. If I'm not someone's cup of tea and their not believing in what I'm doing or they don't think I'm a very good tennis player, I'm indifferent. I do it for myself, for my own enjoyment and my career.

"I try to focus on the positive people in my life who encourage me along the way and I try to focus on all of the people that have believed in me and the support that I have gotten along the way which by far outweighs people that may have doubted me."

With this focused mindset, Collins is now just thirteen spots from her career-high ranking of No. 23, and she's eager to go even further. But more than anything, she is simply excited to be back on the court again after missing two months this season due to endometriosis surgery.

Trying to grab as many match-play opportunities as possible, Collins is feeling excited to start her North American hard-court swing at San Jose's WTA 500. Collins will take on Shelby Rogers for the first time on Monday at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic.

"Shelby is a fierce competitor, she never gives up, she's a very solid baseliner. It will be interesting to play against each other because we both have such big games. So, I think it will be a fun match," she says.

When Collins takes the court against her fellow countrywoman, she will be ready to give the fans what they want to see, and—like always—will bring her competitiveness and feisty on-court demeanor to the table.

"Their definitely going to see a lot of competitive spirit in me this week," Collins says. "That's a guarantee at my matches."