World number 93 Danielle Collins, who reached the first round of the US Open in 2016, revealed to ESPN that she was overwhelmed by seeing her idol in the locker room.
“The first time I saw Venus in the locker room, I nearly cried. I mean, I’ve idolized her my whole life. She’s been my favorite player for forever. This is such a special moment, I’m just trying to wrap my head around it.”
After racing into a 4-1 lead in the first set, Collins held her composure to win the set 6-2 and gave herself a great platform to build towards a win.
Collins broke Williams’ first service game in the second set before Williams showed her experience by clawing back to 2-2. It seemed as if the crowd in Miami would be treated to an extremely close second set. However, Williams only won one more game in the match as the 24-year-old Collins ran out the winner.
Williams is known as a strong server but Collins stood firm and matched her. According to ESPN, despite landing 70 percent of her serves Williams only won 51 percent of the points on her own serve.
Collins won an impressive 66 percent of her service points as she was only broken once by Williams.
After the match, Williams was full of praise for her young opponent and said “[Collins] played very well, aggressively. She went for every shot and they landed. There are days when they don’t, and that wasn’t today.”
Thanks to her win, Collins will skyrocket up the world rankings and could enter the WTA top 50 if she wins the entire tournament. Unusually for a professional tennis player, Collins attended college at the University of Virginia before beginning her career.
Currently, Williams is ranked number eight in the world. Earlier this month, Williams lost in the semi-finals of the Indian Wells tournament to Daria Kasatkina of Russia. Williams has won the Miami Open three times, in 1998, 1999, and 2001.
Williams is one of the most decorated players in women’s tennis history. She has won Wimbledon five times and will soon turn 38 years old. In contrast, Collins is yet to win a title on the WTA tour. However, she is just two games away from being crowned the Miami Open champion.
Collins will face Latvian Jelena Ostapenko in the semi-finals on March 29. Ostapenko is the current French Open champion and will provide another tough test for Collins.