ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - Danielle Collins put the tennis world on notice when she beat Venus Williams in the Miami Open quarterfinals last month.
"It was an incredible feeling playing in that stadium, being in my home state competing against Venus and getting the win," she remembered. "It was incredible, almost kind of surreal."
Collins was the first qualifier to advance to the semifinals, eventually falling to Latvia's Jeļena Ostapenko.
Long before Danielle beat Williams in the Miami Open, she played in parks all across St. Petersburg. She would look for anyone who would compete against her. It was at these parks where she envisioned and dreamed she would one day get to play against some of the world's best players, like Serena and Venus Williams.
"I mean, I just idolized them so much when I was growing up," said Collins. "I could really resonate with them, especially because they didn't come from a prestigious tennis family or a wealthy family. I knew that if I worked really hard, I could be just like them and have a lot of success."
Her win catapulted her to 45th in the Women's Tennis Association rankings. Collins is now able to qualify for the French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open.
"A couple of months ago, I thought I was going to be playing some smaller ITF pro circuit events, and now, I'm going to be in really good position for the Grand Slams and the bigger WTA tournaments," said Collins.
"You know anybody when they first start playing tennis when they're a little kid, they dream of having this opportunity to get to travel the world, to get to play in these big, huge events. This is the time of my life."
Collins' win over Venus is no doubt monumental for a young pro looking to move up the ladder. But she doesn't want it to be the only event fans remember her for.
"I was really excited to get the win, but I have a lot of goals and this is just one of the first steps to reaching those goals," she said. "I think there's a lot more to be achieved in the future."