Banishing Shame

In 2019 Danielle Collins stormed onto the women’s tennis scene at the Australian Open. Having never won a match in a major, she made it to the semi-finals where she lost to P. Kvitová in two sets. Commentators did not know what to make of her brash confidence. When asked about her strategy of play against her next opponent, she replied, “I will just keep on playing awesome tennis!”

Fellow tennis geeks spoke with me in conspiratorial tones... “I am not sure I like her. I think she might be a little ‘too much’.”

Reporters said that her fellow tennis stars were ambivalent about her brash personality. Did she fit in? Was she worthy? Maybe not they implied. She learned to play tennis on public courts not in pricey private clubs. She is a college graduate from the University of Virginia (a rarity among tennis professionals). She readily admits that her game was not good enough to enter the tour earlier and she credits her college coaches with improving her game. Her teammates say that the Danielle Collins of the Australian Open 2019 is the exact girl they have known all along. She’s a force to be reckoned with. She would have LOVED to be a phenom at 14 but she admitted she needed help to improve and took herself off to college to get what she needed.

This gal could walk around with massive doses of shame - how can we ever know about another person’s self assessment? But her actions and words indicate that she believes in herself and she shows no interest in asking any of us to do that work for her.

Shame “all shucks” us. It demands that we take no credit for our strengths and beats us up for our weaknesses. Danielle’s story at a minimum shows us that if we are honest about what we need and willing to ask for help in getting it, good things, unexpected things - can happen.