INDIAN WELLS, Calif.—In 2018, Danielle Collins arrived at Indian Wells relatively unknown to wider tennis circles.

Making the most of a wild-card opportunity, the two-time NCAA champion picked up her first three WTA 1000 match wins to reach the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open. The rest was history, as Collins followed up that performance by reaching the semifinals in Miami in her Top 100 debut.

This year’s event marks the American’s final appearance in Tennis Paradise as a WTA competitor—she'll retire at season's end. caught up with Collins ahead of her first-round match with Erika Andreeva.

Welcome! You just came out of Tennis Channel’s shoot. How’s the vibe inside?

COLLINS: Yeah, it was fun. A bit of it felt like a dental exam at times. I don't think I've ever had a camera that close to my face, fortunately. I don't always do great with that and I get into it with the cameraman sometimes on court (laughter).

Collins on set of TC's speciality shoot.

Collins on set of TC's speciality shoot.


This is the last time we get to sit down with you here at Indian Wells…

COLLINS: Man, as much as I love it, I sure hope so, because I'm ready for my next chapter. It’s been a good run for me, but I've had other things that I want to accomplish. And it's funny, so many people have been saying, "You're retiring already?" And I'm like, "Well, I am 30." So I take it as a compliment that everybody's like, "Oh my God, you're 30." I guess it's just because I haven't been on tour that long since I went the college route, but in some ways, it seems like an eternity.

Building on that, you've always been someone who's talked openly about charting your own path. Why do you think your journey helped you make a decision can be so difficult for most athletes?

COLLINS: I think it's great, because we're seeing so many more women play later in their career, and we're also seeing people come back after they start families, and all of that has been super inspiring to me. But I think with everything that I've done in my career and where I'm at physically, mentally, it's just time for me to move on to the next chapter, and I'm excited about that.

I've worked really hard at this. Tennis has been a really big part of my life. It's been the most important part of my life for a very long time, and I think I've done a good job at trying to balance it. I've had seasons where I don't play full schedules and I had seasons where I have played full schedules. And it doesn't mean that that's not difficult, finding that balance with all the travel that we do and not having a lot of normalcy in our day-to-day life, because we do have such a unique lifestyle.

I think having gone to college and learning about other interests and things that I'm passionate about made the decision a little more easier, because I've always had the mentality of, if I don't want to do this, I don't have to do this. I can do something else. And I feel pretty confident with my abilities, aside from the tennis court, that I can be a successful person in different capacities if that's what I want to do. So the decision was pretty easy for me, to be honest, especially with wanting to have kids and start a family.

I think having gone to college and learning about other interests and things that I'm passionate about made the decision a little bit more easier, because I've always had the mentality of, if I don't want to do this, I don't have to do this. Danielle Collins


This is a venue that served as a springboard for you in 2018. What do you remember about that period?

COLLINS: Yeah, it was a lot of matches in those two events. I think I made quarterfinals in the 125K (Editor's Note: correct), and then I ended up having a good win over Madison Keys and going on to do well in the 1000, so it was an exciting time. I was thinking in my head that year, if I didn't make it into the Top 100, I'd be going to law school, so I was thrilled that I wasn't going to be going into debt quite yet. It was the opposite.

Through the years, what have you enjoyed most about making your way to the California desert?

COLLINS: I just love the atmosphere and the environment. It's such a beautiful place to come and visit. I always talk about Palm Springs and Indian Wells and have so many positive memories. Not just on court, but the fun things off court, and so much beautiful nature and wonderful things to do here, hiking, and go out to Joshua Tree as well and check that out. It's like being on a different planet.


For the “big” tournaments in the U.S. this year, does your approach change at all when you come to a place like this? Are you taking more time to soak it in? Documenting moments?

COLLINS: Well, it's great we started off with a photo shoot and photo op this morning. I feel like, unfortunately, I haven't done a great job of taking a lot of pictures when I go to events because I'm so caught up in my day-to-day and very busy. One of my weaknesses, especially with social media, I'm not like, "Oh, this will look great for Instagram. Let me take this shot." I've been trying to work at that, but that's just something that doesn't come naturally, so trying to take more pictures and capture the moment.

And my goals have changed since this is my last year, and so I have a different mentality and feeling. It makes it a little bit easier from previous years where I'm like, "I got to do this, this, this, and this," and everything's got to be a certain way. I feel like in the last two years, I've become pretty relaxed as my approach. And if I win, great. If I don't, whatever.