Danielle Collins: Babysitting, Greyhound buses paved the way to pro tennis
Dec 28, 2023
Starting on the hot tennis courts of St. Petersburg, Florida, Danielle Collins began her journey to become an established name in the world of pro tennis. After ascending to a career-high WTA world ranking of no. 7, Collins offered a glimpse into her past as part of the My Journey video series produced by the WTA and Morgan Stanley.
Early on, Collins experimented with a number of activities including dance, soccer, and swimming. Yet it was tennis that resonated most with her. "What really drew me most to tennis was the individual nature of the sport and being able to problem solve every time you play a point," she reflected.
The roots of her resilience were deeply embedded in her childhood. With a mother who dedicated over 30 years to preschool teaching and a father, now 85, still active in his landscaping business, Collins was born into a world of hard work. "Growing up with two parents that were so hardworking and living paycheck to paycheck, I think definitely helped," she shared.
Collins' path was influenced by financial challenges in her teenage years. "At 18 years old, I had $0 in my name," she admitted, highlighting the scrappy journey she faced early on.
Above: Danielle Collins. Photo: si.robi (CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)
Collins describes tales of grit and grind that go beyond the court. She says, "I used to babysit regularly and save up my babysitting money and lesson money where I would teach [tennis to] some adults and young kids." She adds, "I would put that money aside and then get myself on an Amtrak or Greyhound bus and get to some of those tournaments."
Later, her tennis scholarship to the University of Virginia became a lifeline to a bright future. "Having the opportunity to go to a school like University of Virginia and have a full scholarship was everything to me," Collins said.
As she transitioned into pro tennis, the reality of her newfound financial status was both exhilarating and daunting. "Going from having basically zero dollars to high six figures, I needed to start taking the time to really educate and inform myself," she confessed.
Despite the fame, Collins remains grounded, attributing her success to her roots and relentless drive. "I'm getting to live my dream doing this," she said, reflecting on her journey with gratitude. Her parents, the bedrock of her ambition, are "so proud" of her, a sentiment that fuels her as much as any championship title.
As Collins travels around the globe to pro tournaments, the days of babysitting and Greyhound buses are in the rear view mirror. She remains a testament to the power of perseverance. Danielle Collins is not just a tennis star, but a symbol of the sunlit spirit of humble St. Petersburg beginnings.
Written by Florida Tennis' Executive Editor and Publisher Matt Pressman. Source: WTA (presented by Morgan Stanley). Top Photo: Carine06 from UK, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons