Tennis star Danielle Collins has reflected on her long "journey" to make it to her first grand slam final at the age of 28, just months after undergoing surgery for endometriosis.
The American player beat seventh seed Iga Swiatek at the Australian Open on Thursday, powering her way to a 6-4 6-1 triumph.
Collins, who will take on Australia's Ashleigh Barty for the top trophy on Saturday, said it "feels amazing" to reach the final, particularly following her health struggles which saw her undergo surgery to have a cyst the "size of a tennis ball" removed from her ovary last spring.
“It’s been such a journey and it doesn’t happen overnight," she said.
"It’s incredible to be on this stage and especially with the health challenges, I’m just so grateful. I couldn’t be happier.”
Collins, ranked 30, was playing in her second grand slam semi-final after also making the last four in Melbourne in 2019 and has returned to the top of the game.
Following her triumph to the semi-final, Collins said on Wednesday that after having surgery for her condition she is now able to live her "best life".
Endometriosis is a painful condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other areas, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes, with some developing ovarian cysts.
Collins said: "When you're dealing with that type of physical pain multiple weeks out of the month, you're not really putting yourself in a position to be able to perform consistently and to be at your best whether it's as an athlete or as a person.
"Had I had the diagnosis a little bit earlier I think it certainly could've benefitted me but it's just one of those things that didn't happen and so now it's great that we know what was going on, we were able to go in surgically and fix it," Collins continued.
"And now I'm able to live my best life and be able to feel like a normal person."
Collins is now preparing to go head-to-head with Barty, who will fulfil a dream forged in childhood when she becomes the first Australian woman in more than 40 years to play for her home grand slam title.
Barty won the French Open in 2019 and Wimbledon last summer. It is the fourth year in a row that the 25-year-old has reached at least the quarter-finals at the Australian Open, with her best run previously a semi-final showing in 2020.
She said: “Over the last three or four years I’ve loved playing here in Australia. I’ve had my best results here over the last little period. It’s really exciting now that we get to play for a title on a Saturday at your home slam.”
On taking on Barty, Collins said: “To play against the number one player in the world in her home country, I think it’s going to be really spectacular.”