How Danielle Collins became a champion again despite having endometriosis

ENDOMETRIOSIS - A show of strength and determination. American tenniswoman Danielle Collins won her Australian Open semi-final on Thursday January 27 against Iga Swiatek and joined Ashleigh Barty in the final. The day before, she had eliminated Alizé Cornet in the quarter. A career that has what it takes to be an example for millions of women. The American has indeed undergone an operation to combat the pain caused by endometriosis, a disease that affects at least 10% of women.

After her victory against Alizé Cornet on Wednesday, Danielle Collins recalled her path to arrive at this moment. “I especially think after some of the health issues that I've had, it's very rewarding to be able to get back to this level, to be able to compete like I've been and to be able to be as physical as I've been,” she said Wednesday.

And for good reason, the tennis player was forced to put her career on hold for several months to have surgery. After multiple ultrasounds and laparoscopy, doctors found "a cyst the size of a tennis ball" in the young woman's abdomen.

High-level sport was no longer possible

After long difficult months, Danielle Collins decided to complete the operation in April 2021. “I got to a point where I could not do without it”, she explained in August 2021. She indeed felt extreme pain, especially during her menstruation.

How Danielle Collins became champion again despite the 'endometriosis

Proud of her victory, she explains that the operation allowed her to train as well as possible to come back strong. “Before this procedure, I always had to adjust my training according to my cycle, because of the pain of my periods, she explains. Now, with things being more consistent, I am able to train better and not have to go through any issues during my cycle week. And you learn a lot mentally from this kind of ordeal.

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During the first part of his career, his efforts to contain the disease were consistent. "There were times when I was forced to forfeit my matches because I had this pain shooting down my back all the way down to my foot because my uterus had rolled over and put pressure on the nerve sciatica, she recalls in the latest edition of Player's Voice. All of this meant regularly withdrawing from tournaments because my body just wouldn't allow me to train or compete properly."

The disease conquered, a rebirth

The operation was therefore a major relief, for her life as a woman first, but also in her life as an athlete. “It's night and day compared to what I've experienced: not having to worry about my period coming and thinking about all the scenarios impacting my performance, how I needed to adjust my training, how much sleep I needed,” she says.

Returning to the highest level was not easy, however, since the operation required perforating the abdominal wall in several places. Particularly sensitive muscles for tennis players. “So it took me a lot of rehabilitation to regain the strength I had at the start of the season, she said after the operation. Coming back to competition was quite daunting because there is a lot of movement repetition especially with the serve.”

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There was probably a lot of apprehension. But also relief when she won the Palermo and San Jose tournaments at the end of 2021. So what can we say about this brilliant career at the Australian Open less than a year after this life-saving operation.

See also on The HuffPost: MEPs unanimously adopt the LFI proposal on endometriosis

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Coraline Mercier

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