Danielle Collins announces her retirement looms after a 2nd-round loss to Swiatek at Australian Open

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Danielle Collins of the U.S. reacts during her first round match against Angelique Kerber of Germany at the Australian Open tennis championships at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

MELBOURNE – With her own kind of perpetual motion, Danielle Collins transitioned swiftly from an Australian Open loss against the world's top-ranked player to announcing this would be her last season on the professional tennis tour.

While Iga Swiatek was still doing a post-match, on-court TV interview, the 30-year-old American was discussing her future in a small interview room.

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“This is going to be my last season, actually, competing,” Collins said. “I don’t really know exactly when, but this will be my last season and I’m really looking forward to that.”

The 2022 Australian Open runner-up had just lost five straight games to surrender a 4-1 third-set lead against Swiatek, eventually going down 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in a 3-hour, 14-minute match on Rod Laver Arena.

The conversational shift from the present to the future happened quickly, in response to the question: Are all losses created equal?

“At this point, I’m kind of at the end of my career and they don’t sting quite as much, to be honest,” she said. “I have kind of gotten to the point where obviously they matter and my career means a lot to me, but at the end of the day you either win or you lose, and that’s all there is to it.”

Collins beat Swiatek in the semifinals here two years ago before losing the final to Australia's Ash Barty. That remains her major milestone. Since then, Collins hasn't gone past the fourth round at a major. Barty has retired and had a baby.

The second-round encounter against Swiatek on Thursday followed Collins' first-round win over 2016 Australian Open winner Angelique Kerber, a three-time major winner. Swiatek was coming off a win over 2020 champion Sofia Kenin. Tough bracket.

“Yeah, I lost 6-4 in the third to one of the best players in the world, and she played some great tennis,” Collins said, assessing her match. I "left it all on the court."

The sudden announcement came as a surprise to other players.

“We played so many tight matches. They were hard, so I don’t know if I’m going to miss that!” Swiatek said, smiling. “For sure she showed great tennis, really great passion and determination. I know she’s not done yet, but for sure I’m going to congratulate her for her whole career.”

Sloane Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, took a long pause when told of the news, before asking whether it was an emotional response to the loss or if there were already plans in place.

“Obviously if that’s what she has planned and for her future, I totally support that,” Stephens said. “I grew up playing tennis with her. It’s always sad to see players go, obviously especially someone my age who is still playing well and playing great tennis.”

Stephens, who took out No. 14 seed Daria Kasatkina 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, said she wanted to talk to Collins before commenting too much.

“Tennis is so up and down, and it’s so emotional,” she said. “There’s probably 10 times last year when I wanted to retire. It’s a normal feeling. You’re just, like, ‘Why am I out here? What am I doing this for? Why am I playing?’ I don’t know if it was that, or if this is truly what she has been planning.”

Collins' made her announcement hours after fellow American Jennifer Brady posted on social media that she'd be taking another extended time out while she recovers from further surgery on her right knee.

Brady, who reached her first Grand Slam singles final at the Australian Open in 2021, said she'd go back to college to stay close to the game.

Collins took the college route to the elite tour, playing at the University of Virginia and wining NCAA singles titles in 2014 and 2016.

Until her breakthrough run to the Australian Open semifinals in 2019, Collins had never won a match at a major.

At Melbourne Park that year, though, she beat then No. 2-ranked Kerber in the fourth round on a run that took out three seeded players. She also reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros in 2020 and second week in the U.S. Open in 2022.

After undergoing surgery in 2021 to treat endometriosis, she said she played in less pain and was in better shape to win.

Collins said with the ups-and-downs of being on tour and all the travel, “this is a really tough sport.”

“I have other things that I’d kind of like to accomplish in my life outside of tennis, and would like to be able to do that," she said. "Obviously having kids is a big priority for me.”


AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis

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