Former Virginia women’s tennis star, Danielle Collins, has clinched a spot in the Australian Open Finals, after defeating the ninth-ranked Iga Swiatek in straight sets; 6-4, 6-1. This will be the first Grand Slam final appearance for Collins. During her time as a Hoo, Collins won two NCAA Singles Titles (2014 and 2016), as well as being the top-ranked women’s tennis player at the end of her college career. She is one of seven women to win two Singles titles, being the first from the ACC. In 2016, she was awarded the Honda Sport Award as the top women’s tennis player in the NCAA. After spending one season at the University of Florida, she was an All-ACC first-team selection in all three of her seasons at UVA. Her 38 single wins as a senior are the most in program history.
Collins came into the tournament ranked 30th in the WTA and as the 27th seed in the tournament. However, she has been able to pull out wins in tight matches throughout the tournament. In the third round, she took on Clara Tauson in a match that went to three sets, and Collins prevailed 7-5 in the third set. In her next match, Collins knocked off Elise Mertens, who is ranked number 26 in the world, in three sets. These matches gave her momentum and confidence, as she has won her past two matches, convincingly, in straight sets.
Last April, Collins had to get surgery for endometriosis, which causes pain in the abdominal and pelvic areas. Since the surgery, she seems to be playing at another level, as she was able to come back a month later and win two matches at the French Open. She would also win her first two WTA Singles titles at the 2021 Palermo Open and 2021 Silicon Valley Classic. Now, she has knocked off a former Grand Slam winner, as Swiatek won the French Open in 2020.
Collins will have a tough matchup in the finals, as she will take on Australian Ashleigh Barty, who is the number one player in the world. Barty has won two Grand Slams (2019 French Open and 2021 Wimbledon), but this will be her first final appearance in her home country. Barty has yet to drop a set in the tournament, so far. The match will take place on January 29th at 3:30 A.M. EST.