This month, our eyes turn to the US Open which takes place here in NYC. A number of tennis greats will battle with the best in their sport to walk away victorious. In addition, there are a number of fun activities around this time of year to hang out with your favorite player, to take in the game and more. Right before the Taste of Tennis, a culinary event that celebrates the US Open along with a number of athletes within the game and outside of it, we had the chance to chat with Danielle Collins who is known for her phenomenal playing as well as making jewelry for the court. We talk with her about the game, her passion for it and being a jewelry designer.
ATHLEISURE MAG: Tell us about what made you fall in love with tennis and drew you to the sport?
DANIELLE COLLINS: My draw to the sport goes back to my grade school days. Back then, every Monday to kick off the week we had Show and Tell. There was a boy at school who would bring in these shiny trophies he'd won over the weekends to show our class. I remember seeing the trophies and asking my Dad how I could win trophies like that, and he told me if I worked really hard I could win some trophies, too. I guess you can say that I've always had the competitive spirit from an early age, and loved the way tennis makes you problem solve on your own.
AM: What was the moment when you realized that you wanted to go pro?
DC: I knew I wanted to go pro when I was seven years old watching the Grand Slams on television with my parents. I didn't really know how to put my game all together as a junior, and didn't have the opportunity to turn pro right out of finishing high school. College helped me grow so much personally and as an athlete. Winning two national championships at UVA gave me confidence to know I could also have success at the professional level.
AM: How was playing in the quarterfinals in doubles at Wimbeldon?
DC: I absolutely loved competing with Bethanie. She was so much fun to share the court with and her energy is contagious! Getting to the quarterfinals was really huge for me personally, as I had never made quarterfinals in a Doubles Slam before.
AM: How has the current season been since the US Open is around the corner?
DC: The current season has been great. I am continuing to make progress within my game, and gaining the experiencing I need. Sometimes I don't get the results I want, but right now I am more focused on trying to continue to develop my game, and on the daily process to get myself to the next level.
AM: What is an average day like when you are in training for your next match?
DC: Training days are always different unless we are in pre-season. When I'm on the road, there are many variables during tournaments. We make time for strength and conditioning workouts everyday, put the hours in on court, and work with my sports psychologist/ performance coach. We also spend a lot of time focusing on recovery and making sure my body is getting what it needs to relax.
AM: What is the tennis season like?
DC: The tennis season is very long, but perfect for me since I love competition and traveling.
AM: We love accessories, what drew you to jewelry and how did this interest become another passion?
DC: What I love most about jewelry is the story each piece can share, and how sentimental jewelry is for people. For me, every piece of jewelry I own has some type of unique story behind why I designed it or what drew me into buying it. Designing jewelry allows me to use my creativity and imagination, in a way that is much different from tennis. I've always been passionate about fashion and art, and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to partner with Ritani to showcase my other passion in life.
AM: We know you have partnerships/sponsorships with New Balance and Head Racquets. When did you start working with them and what do you do with each of these relationships?
DC: Head and New Balance have been incredible for me and my career. I have been working with Head for about two years now and New Balance for a little over a year. There is no better feeling when you have two highly respected companies like these two, giving so much care and support to my career. The teams that New Balance and Head, work so diligently behind the scenes to make sure that we have the best equipment. Head has been so great in helping me accommodate to any specific needs that I have had with making sure my racquet is just the way I want and need it to feel. What both of them do is really special, and I am so grateful to have them a part of my career. They mean the world to me!
AM: Tell us about the Danielle Collins Jewelry line and of course about your diamond tennis bracelets?
DC: Launching at Wimbledon was so incredibly special to me. Wimbledon is the holy grail of our sport, and the rich tennis tradition is something that cannot be compared anywhere else in the world. When we launched, I was happy to carry on the tradition of elegance that the tennis bracelet represents. So many of the fans and jewelry lovers remember back in the 70s when Chris Evert was sporting her diamond tennis bracelet on court. I loved bringing back that vintage aesthetic, and was proud of the exquisiteness that Ritani engrained into each of the small details and sparkly diamonds.
AM: What is the full offering of pieces available at Danielle Collins Jewelry line?
DC: The full offering available is Necklaces, Bracelets, and Earrings. We offer some finer pieces and some more fun whimsical ones as well.
AM: What pieces from yourdo you wear during your matches?
DC: The jewelry that I wear during my match are a diamond tennis bracelet and double pendant diamond necklace.
AM: When creating your line, what inspires your pieces from legendary tennis players to various aesthetics?
DC: When designing, I enjoy creating a variety of different pieces. All of my pieces have one thing in common -- they are timeless, and will not go out of style. While some pieces are more whimsical and playful, and others follow a more classic design, at the core, it’s about the meaning behind them.
AM: When you are creating your pieces as you intend to have them worn during playing, what are you looking to include and to avoid?
DC: When I am creating my pieces and intend to have them worn I like wearing pieces that are edgy and sophisticated. I try to make sure each piece is lightweight enough to wear so that I am 100% comfortable moving around on court. The material that I like to include the most is diamonds. They are one of the world’s toughest materials, and at the same time, they shine and are sophisticated. I try to be one of the toughest players on tour, and at the same time I try to be fashionable! The art of jewelry and wearing these pieces allows me to showcase my creative sense of style, and reminds me to be tough on court.
AM: As a professional player and entrepreneur, what lessons did you learn that inform how you go about your endeavours?
DC: Being both a professional tennis player and entrepreneur has taught me a lot of lessons along the way. Both have taught me how to network, organize, and manage my career and jewelry line. But the most important thing both have taught me is knowing how to take appropriate risks.
AM: In St. Pete, Florida, where can we find you grabbing a meal/cocktail, working out and going shopping?
DC: On the weekends, you can find me at Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa, grabbing my favorite meal. I enjoy going to hot yoga on the weekends, and shopping at Restoration Hardware to draw inspiration for my home.
AM: What are 3 items that you tend to carry in your carry on when you’re traveling?
DC: Three items I carry in my bag when traveling: sunscreen, hair brush, and mascara.