Danielle Collins reached a career-high of world No.7 in 2022.
CNN  — 

US tennis player Danielle Collins has had to fight harder than most during her time at the top of the sport.

The 30-year-old has suffered from a number of health issues, including rheumatoid arthritis and endometriosis, but has still managed to forge a successful career.

The 2022 Australian Open finalist announced in January that she would be retiring from the sport at the end of the current season and is currently enjoying her farewell tour.

Speaking to reporters ahead of this week’s Indian Wells tournament, Collins opened up about those tough moments she has experienced in her sporting journey.

“I’m also someone that has dealt with a lot of physical struggles and that has not been easy,” Collins said.

“That wasn’t something that ended up defining my career. I was able to overcome a lot of it, and of course, there were challenges along the way, but I was able to play through two chronic inflammatory conditions and did pretty well.”

‘I just couldn’t keep living my life like that’

Her health issues began in 2019 when she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis – a condition that causes pain and swelling in the body’s joints.

Collins had been suffering from pain for a while before the diagnosis and, at the time, said it was a “relief” to learn about the cause of her discomfort.

With treatment and a strategic plan in place to minimize the symptoms, Collins continued to compete but would soon face yet another hurdle.

In April 2021, the American underwent emergency surgery for endometriosis where a tennis ball-sized cyst was removed.

Collins has always been candid about her health struggles and said the pain from her endometriosis – a condition where the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside of it – was excruciating.

“Had I not had the surgery, I just couldn’t keep living my life like that,” Collins she told the WTA website in 2021. “The agony that I experienced from my menstrual cycles and from the endometriosis is some of the worst pain I’ve ever had.”

The American is due to retire from professional tennis at the end of 2024.

Somehow Collins found a way to manage and went on to achieve a career-high ranking of world No. 7 the following season.

It was also the year she reached the final of the Australian Open and became America’s No. 1-ranked women’s player.

“I do think those big wins are things that you probably look back on when you get older and you think very fondly of,” she told reporters this week, looking back at her career highlights.

“I think when I get older, I’ll definitely look back on those matches and have fond memories and, hopefully by that time, it won’t be a blur.”

At 30, it may seem like Collins is retiring early, but after giving so much to the sport, she is excited to travel less and is eager to raise a family.

First, though, she has a few more tournaments to navigate and started her Indian Wells campaign with a first-round win against Erika Andreeva.

The American, now ranked 56th in the world, will play world No. 1 Iga Świątek in the second round later on Friday.

Whatever happens in her final season on tour, Collins will leave behind a legacy which could serve as inspiration for other athletes who find themselves struggling with their health.