American Danielle Collins said it felt “incredible” to reach the Australian Open semi-finals less than a year after taking an indefinite break from tennis.
Collins, 28, had surgery for endometriosis in April, returning to action two months later.
Now the 27th seed has reached her second semi-final in Melbourne after a 7-5 6-1 win over France’s Alize Cornet.
Collins faces seventh seed Iga Swiatek, who beat veteran Kaia Kanepi 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-3, in Thursday’s semi-final.
Poland’s Swiatek, who won the 2020 French Open title as a teenager, will play in her second Grand Slam semi-final after coming through an intense battle which lasted more than three hours.
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Collins pleased to be competing with the best
Both of Collins’ major semi-final appearances have been at Melbourne Park, with this one holding extra significance after her health concerns.
Collins announced she was stepping away from the tour last year to have the surgery, saying it was causing her “too much physical agony” and affecting her “overall day-to-day life”.
Endometriosis is a condition where cells like the ones in the lining of the womb grow elsewhere in the body.
After surgery and helped by medication, Collins says she is now having less painful periods and is able to train more consistently.
That has resulted in another strong run at the Australian Open, where she used her trademark power to beat Cornet.
Collins decisively broke in what proved to be the final game of a tight first set, then won the opening five games of a second set lasting 30 minutes.
“It feels incredible, especially after some of the health challenges I’ve had,” said Collins, who lost to eventual runner-up Petra Kvitova in the 2019 semi-finals.
“Once I was able to get the proper diagnosis and the surgery, I feel like it’s helped me so much – not just from a physical standpoint but from a mental standpoint.
“When you’re dealing with that type of physical pain multiple weeks out of the month, you’re not putting yourself in a position to be able to perform consistently and to be at your best whether as an athlete or a person.
“To be able to compete with these women, it’s such an honour.”