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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Sunday, March 31, 2024

Danielle Collins was fighting back tears before she even struck a shot in the Miami Open final.

Seeing her childhood tennis hero, Hall of Famer Andre Agassi, sitting courtside in the front row was such a moving moment it put Collins "near tears" she conceded. 

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By the end of her 7-5, 6-3 victory over Elena Rybakina in the Miami Open final, Collins was pinching back tears of joy.

The 53rd-ranked Collins denied 10 of 11 break points becoming the lowest-ranked Miami Open champion in history and first American woman to win Miami since fellow Floridian Sloane Stephens in 2018.

In her final season on the WTA Tour, Collins captured her biggest title in her farewell to her home tournament.

Finality has heightened Collins' commitment to savor every experience in this curtain call season.

"These are some, like, really special moments. I don't want to be so focused on everything else where I don't get to kind of take it in," Collins told the media in Miami. "I really think, like, part of the reason why I played so well and did a good job today was because I had that mentality of, like, I'm going to enjoy every minute of this. This is my last year, this is my last season, and these are some of my final events. I want to remember these moments."

The former all-American absorbed it all after collecting her first WTA 1000 title. Collins spent several minutes afterwards signing autographs and taking selfies with her fans who cheered on her inspired title run.

The career finish line in sight, Collins is committed to enjoying every stage of her tennis journey.

"I do look back on sometimes different stages of my career, and be like, wow, that's kind of a blur and I don't really remember it that much," Collins said. "It doesn't really seem that long ago when you say, oh, four years or six years, but in a lot of ways it can feel like an eternity.

"I'm just trying to get better at taking it in."

Photo credit: Miami Open/Hard Rock Stadium