By Tucker Verdi

Last week, she was ranked 117th in the world and didn’t even know if she would be in the main draw.

Tonight, Danielle Collins beat her idol Venus Williams to advance to the semifinals of the Miami Open, becoming the first qualifier to do so.

“You know, I have put in the hard work my whole life,” the 24-year-old remarked at her presser, “so at the end of the day, I know I have done literally everything I can do to put myself in the best situation.”

Collins, who won two NCAA national championships during her years at the University of Virginia, overpowered the 37-year-old Venus and worked her around the court.

“I obviously have an incredible amount of respect for Venus, but you kind of have to take the name out of it and just focus on the tennis part and play one point at a time.”

Williams didn’t seem to have an answer to Collins’ relentless game.

“There wasn’t a shot she couldn’t make,” the 7-time Grand Slam champ said post-match. “I mean, she played very well and aggressively, and she went for every shot and it landed.

“There’s going to be some days where they don’t land, but that wasn’t today.”

Collins also landed a tough opponent tomorrow in Jelena Ostapenko. The 20-year-old Latvian willed her way to a tight 7-6(3), 7-6(5) win over World No. 4 Elina Svitolina.

“I mean, before the match I knew I had to be very aggressive,” Ostapenko said after the match, “and when I had a chance, I was going for it.”

The reigning French Open titlist was definitely going for it, her winner total just barely edging her unforced error total 44-42. But it was clear from the get-go that Ostapenko didn’t think she could win the rally battle with the 24-year-old Ukranian, so she danced on the edge by relying on aggressive shots to overpower Svitolina.

“I think this tournament I’m playing more aggressive which is helping me,” Ostapenko explained. “I think that I had to play a little bit smarter, but in general, I think that I was aggressive today helped me.

“I’m not afraid to miss the ball.”

She indeed missed frequently, but Ostapenko made the shots that mattered and just edged her way into her second premier mandatory semifinal.

Said Collins on her next opponent, “She’s a fighter. She won the French Open. It’s going to be another incredible opportunity for me, and I’m just really looking forward to get out on the court and having a great match.”

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About the Miami Open presented by Itaú

The 2018 Miami Open will be played March 19-April 1 at the Crandon Park Tennis Center in Miami. The two-week combined event is owned and operated by IMG. The Miami Open is one of nine ATP Masters 1000 Series events on the ATP calendar, a Premier Mandatory event on the WTA calendar, and features the top men’s and women’s tennis players in the world. The tournament is widely regarded as the most glamorous on the ATP and WTA calendars because of its exotic Miami location, thriving nightlife, five-star hotels and restaurants, beautiful weather and beaches, and its celebrity appeal. For ticket information, call +1.305.442.3367 or visit

About Itaú

Itau is the largest Latin America privately owned bank, with approximately 94,000 employees and operations in 19 countries throughout the Americas, Asia and Europe. Itaú’s relationship with sport goes back to the 1970s, when Itaú first sponsored the Itaú Tennis Cup in Brazil in 1970. Itaú has been a sponsor of the Miami Open for the last six years, and also sponsors the Rio Open, the only combined ATP/WTA event in South America. Itaú also supports the Brazilian Women’s Tennis Circuit, only female professional tournament in South America, certified by the Brazilian Tennis Confederation (CBT) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF), as well as the Tennis Institute Training Center, responsible for the development of young, new talent.

About IMG

IMG is a global leader in sports, fashion, events and media, operating in more than 30 countries. The company represents and manages some of the world’s greatest sports figures and fashion icons; stages hundreds of live events and branded entertainment experiences annually; and is one of the largest independent producers and distributors of sports media. IMG also specializes in sports training; league development; and marketing, media and licensing for brands, sports organizations and collegiate institutions.