On Saturday, Danielle Collins and Madison Keys will stand across the net from each other in the final of the Internationaux de Strasbourg. But nearly 20 years ago, the two Americans lived on opposite ends of the state of Florida, with Illinois native Keys relocating to Boca Raton to the Evert Tennis Academy at age 10—four hours southeast of Collins' hometown of St. Petersburg.

That didn't stop a relationship from blooming, one that persists to this day. And Collins revealed the sweet origins of her and Keys' two-decade friendship after she defeated Ukraine's Anhelina Kalinina in the WTA 500 event's semifinals on Friday.

"Madison and I have known each other since we were 10. We used to be pen pals. We'd write little letters to each other," Collins revealed in her on-court post-match interview.

"Our moms are both from Iowa, so they bonded over that at the junior tournaments. I've known Maddie a long time, and [she's] a good friend. I'm excited to play her here and have some fun tomorrow."


The two Billie Jean King Cup teammates, and 2024 U.S. Olympic hopefuls, have played twice previously as professionals, each winning once, but they have not faced off in four years. There is a milestone at stake for both at the last Roland Garros tune-up tournament: Keys will be playing in her first red clay final since 2016 (her only two previously clay-court tiles came on Charleston's green clay), while Collins is seeking her third title in the last two months.

Neither woman has lost a set thus far, and each would be the first American champion at the tournament since Jennifer Capriati in 1999.