Collins: Surgery Changed Her Mindset

Danielle Collins (photo: @rolandgarros/Twitter)

PARIS/WASHINGTON, May 31, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

When Danielle Collins stepped out on Stade Roland-Garros Court 12 to play her first-round match against 145th-ranked Chinese qualifier Wang Xiyu on Sunday at the French Open, the 50th-ranked American had a different kind of mindset, something she’s never experienced as a professional tennis player.

“I think before I went out on the court today, I was just like, you know, I have to give it my best, and I have to know my strengths and I have to be aware of the things that might not be feeling great at certain points in time,” Collins said in her first match following surgery for endometriosis, in which she had a cyst the size of a tennis ball removed from her ovary. Endometriosis effects about 10 percent of all women worldwide.

The 27-year-old Collins, a two-time NCAA singles champion for the University of Virginia, can be thankful for the simple please of being able to play pain free, and it showed. In her first match in two months, she beat Wang, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, to advance to the second round against 139th-ranked Ukrainian qualifier Anhelina Kalinina. The win improved Collins’ win-loss record this season to 11-5.

“Since surgery, I’ve just felt so much better, especially with my back pain,” said Collins, a native of St. Petersburg, Fla., who last played in March at the Miami Open. She skipped the entire clay season before Roland-Garros. “Like I’m not having any type of sciatic nerve pain, which I was dealing with for a couple of years.”

After her victory, during her post-match press conference, Collins said she was really pleased with how she felt. On court, she was as vocal as ever. “I felt really great the whole way through. I was a bit nervous, too, today going out since this was my first real match since surgery.

“I do still think sometimes I was a bit hesitant, but as the match continued to go on, I became more and more confident physically. And so yeah, it was just a really rewarding match.”

Collins, who reached the French Open quarterfinals last year, hit 29 winners and won 83 percent of her first serves during her two hour and 15-minute victory. She outpointed Wang 97-82.

Recently, Collins spoke publicly for the first time at length about living with endometriosis with Simon Briggs, tennis correspondent for The Telegraph of London. During her press conference Sunday, Collins was asked what challenges her physical condition posed for her during the tour – how she lived with it – and how important her positive mentality has been in being able to overcome those challenges on court.

“As most women in the world who have our menstrual cycles, I think it’s something that sometimes when we’re dealing with these painful moments, we learn to accept it. And for me, things started to become too abnormal and really unhealthy, and it was causing a lot of havoc for me around that time,” Collins explained.

“I also interestingly enough had some injuries pop up during that time, and so I think that maybe the endometriosis had something to do with that, just the hormonal-like fluctuation.

“It certainly presented its challenges, but it’s been really kind of shocking, like since surgery I’ve just felt so much better, especially with my back pain. Like I’m not having any type of sciatic nerve pain, which I was dealing with for a couple of years.

“That to me I always thought it was more joint related. I consulted with my doctors and kind of had some misdiagnoses along the way. And so now, I’m just kind of relieved to just be feeling good consistently and not having to always track and be like, ‘Oh, like this is going to be a bad week, do I have to kind of prepare my training around that or my tournaments around that?’ It’s just been a real weight that’s been lifted off my shoulders since having the surgery because I kind of just in some ways got used to it and kind of thought that that was normal to be detailing with.

“I didn’t realize that I would feel this much better after surgery, so I’m really relieved.”

Since The Telegraph interview was published, Collins said she’s heard from other women with similar issues and has found it gratifying that she could help destigmatized the matter.

“I’ve had a handful of different women that have reached out to me, friends, family, people that I don’t know, that I’ve never met that have been affected by endometriosis. It’s been kind of nice to have that sense of community because I think when you’re living with these types of things, sometimes it can be very isolating because you feel alone and that you’re dealing with these problems.

“Sometimes, there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel. So, if I can ever be a friend to somebody and share my experience, hopefully that can offer them some knowledge or information that maybe they didn’t know before.

“I was lucky to have a friend in my life that had endometriosis, and that helped me identify what I was dealing with.

“Yeah, I think just being able to talk about it with other women is empowering.”

Not a full press boycott for Osaka

Naomi Osaka began her quest for a fifth major title by winning her 15th consecutive Grand Slam match, 6-4, 7-6 (4) over Patricia Maria Tig as the 2021 French Open began on what turned out to a pleasant, sunny Parisian Sunday afternoon. Osaka completed the task of advancing to the second round in one hour and 47 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

While there’s been much focus on Osaka since her decision last week to skip post-match press conferences, the Japanese superstar gave a brief on-court interview with Fabrice Santoro following her match. “It’s a very beautiful court. [Movement on clay] is a work in progress.

“The more I play, the better I’ll get.”

Later in the day, Osaka was leveled a $15,000 fine for shirking her media repsonsibilities.

News & noteworthy

First match to finish: On Court 8, Ana Bogdan of Romania defeated lucky loser Elisabetta Cocciaretto of Italy, 6-1, 6-3. It lasted 67 minutes.

Longest match of the day: Women, 2hr 33min, Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic defeated fellow Czech Marie Bouzkova, 6-0, 4-6, 6-2. Men, 4hr 28min, Pablo Andújar of Spain defeated No. 4 seed Dominic Thiem of Austria, 4-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

Shortest match of the day: 58 minutes, Elena Vesnina of Russia defeated lucky loser Olga Govortsova, Belarus, 6-1, 6-0.

Last match of the day: No. 23 seed Madison Keys of the United States defeated wild card Oceane Dodin of France, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, in one hour and 37 minutes. The match on Court Simone-Mathieu finished at 11:55 p.m. Paris time.

Only former Roland Garros champion to play on opening day: 2009 champion Svetlana Kuzketsova of Russia, third match on Court Philippe-Chatrier, versus No. 15 seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus. Azarenka won 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 in two hours.

Late night at Roland Garros

Meet Mackenzie McDonald


Notified on Sunday that he’s been added to the men’s main draw as a lucky loser replacing Milos Raonic of Canada, Argentina’s Francisco Cerúndolo wrote on Twitter: “Siempre hay revancha y segundas oportunidades, uno tiene que estar preparado para cuando se presenten. Mañana debut en mi primer grand slam aca en Roland Garros.”

(Translation: “There is always revenge and second chances, one has to be prepared for when they present themselves.Tomorrow I debut in my first grand slam here at Roland Garros.”)

Stat worthy

Thirty-nine-year-old Serena Williams owns a 76-1 win-loss record in first-round matches at Grand Slams – Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, US Open – which translates into a .987 winning percentage. The only blemish? Try the 2012 French Open, when Williams lost to Virginie Razzano of France, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3. Williams plays her first match at this year’s Roland Garros against Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania on Monday evening.

What they’re writing

Peter Bodo,, “Naomi Osaka vs. The Press”: Is it entitlement or empowerment? It depends upon who you ask.

Monday’s Roland Garros show courts order of play