World No.31 Danielle Collins took a wild card into Naples, becoming the highest-ranked player to compete in an Oracle Pro Series event. The St. Petersburg, Florida native reached her first Grand Slam semifinal earlier this year at the Australian Open and achieved her career-high ranking of No.23 shortly thereafter. In the last two years, the two-time NCAA Champion from the University of Virginia has notched wins over Venus Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, Angelique Kerber, Victoria Azarenka and Madison Keys.

She is also the recipient of the 2017 Oracle US Tennis Award, which is a $100,000 grant intended to assist young players as they transition from college into the professional ranks. A champion at the 2018 Oracle Challenger Series Newport, Collins very much enjoys competing in Oracle Tennis events.

“I saw that Oracle had the $125k in Houston and the $25k in Naples,” she said. “When I wasn’t able to win my first match in Houston and found out that Oracle was doing the tournament in Naples, I was really excited because, honestly, the Oracle tournaments are some of the best-run events.”

What is your most memorable win?
Beating Angelique Kerber at the Australian Open this year.

What is your next goal in tennis?
To be healthy, keep enjoying my travels and working hard every day.

Who has been the toughest opponent you’ve faced?
All of the players on tour are really tough, and that’s what’s so admirable about the WTA. We have such great athletes and competitors. I think that everyone I face puts in her best effort to be the best competitor she can be.

What is a memorable match you’ve watched live or on TV?
I really loved Caroline Wozniacki vs. Simona Halep in the 2018 Australian Open final, especially the back-end of the match. It was such incredible tennis and I don’t think it was talked about enough. That was some of the most amazing tennis I’ve ever seen. The athleticism from both of them, especially in a high-pressure situation where it would be either one’s first slam, was at such a high level. That match was incredible. Halep and Wozniacki are two of my favorite players – so fun to watch.

What are 3 things you always have in your tennis bag?
Sunscreen, hairspray, toothbrush

Who has been the most influential person on your tennis life?
Honestly, I know people might not like this, but it’s been me. I’ve been the most influential person because I haven’t had a lot of consistent people in my life unfortunately. I haven’t had a consistent coach or parents who traveled with me – I’ve done everything on my own. There was a long period where I didn’t have a coach and I traveled by myself. I’ve had to guide myself and figure a lot of things out on my own and rely on my gut to lead me in the right direction. I think I’m very fortunate to be in the situation that I am because I think a lot of people would have thrown in the towel if they had some of the circumstances that I had. I think more women should take credit and not give it to other people – at the end of the day it’s you putting in the work.

What is your favorite shot to hit in tennis?
Love the drop shot.

Where has been the most interesting or exciting place you’ve traveled?
I love Australia. There are so many beautiful cities and so many fun things to do – great weather, too, very tropical. You can go to Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney and more and see so many amazing things. I think it’s a beautiful country and I loved my travels there.

What’s one thing you can’t live without?
Having dogs. I have 3 – a Boxer/Jack Russell, a Boxer/Pug and a German Shepherd. I don’t know how people don’t have dogs, it’s crazy. You always have to be careful around people who don’t like dogs, haha.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
To do what I want to do – not what other people want me to do.

What is a weird superstition that you have?
I’m not a superstitious person – I don’t believe in that.

Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I am big into philanthropy. This year I was involved with the Team Luke Hope for Minds, I donated some time and money to support that foundation, one I really care deeply about. Luke, whose dad was a college tennis coach, suffered a traumatic brain injury and the foundation helps other children who suffer similar injuries with financial expenses for medical costs. It can be a very isolating thing for both the children with these injuries and their families, so the foundation does great things to support them.

I also just started working with the Children’s Dream Fund in my hometown of St. Petersburg, which has been a really uplifting experience. I’ve lived a pretty privileged life, getting to go to UVA, travel the world and do so many cool things, so it opens up my eyes to those who have dreams and are in need and not in the best of health. I met a 7-year-old named Camille last week who recently went through a bone marrow transplant, where her sister was her donor and lifesaver. The Children’s Dream Fund talks to these deserving kids and makes their dreams happen – so Camille and her family were able to go to Disney World and the other Orlando theme parks.

It’s a nice feeling to be able to give back and support people who are in need. I’m glad I’m in a position where I can be able to help – it’s been a really uplifting experience. The look on Camille’s face when they told her she was going to Disney was incredible. It’s so special for her and her family.

Morning Person or Night Owl:
Morning Person

Beach or Mountains:
Beach

Pizza or Salad:
Pizza

Roger or Rafa:
Rafa

Clay or Grass:
Grass

Flying or Driving:
Driving

Puppies or Kittens:
Puppies

Savory or Sweet:
Sweet