U.S. Open champion Stephens again ended former world number one Victoria Azarenka's hopes of a fairytale comeback by beating her 3-6 6-2 6-1 in an afternoon encounter.
"This is so cool!" She rarely faced trouble, offered confident fist pumps for much of the night and set the tone by breaking Williams - one of her idols, someone who's been playing pro matches for about as long as the 24-year-old Collins has been alive - with her opening chance in each set.
"For me this is so incredible to have friends and family here".
It was an unbelievable effort from a 24 year-old qualifier in just her second season as a professional and her debut appearance at Key Biscayne. After the match, the American said said, "Missing here a year ago, I really just wanted to get back on these courts".
Last year's US Open victor Sloane Stephens has made her maiden Miami final over three sets on Thursday, defeating Victoria Azarenka of Belarus again in the semifinals and will meet last year's French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko from Latvia in Saturday's final. Each made a surprise-no, shocking-run to her first Grand Slam title previous year; Ostapenko at the French Open, Stephens at the US Open. "That's exactly what I did", said Collins to media.
Collins could be excused for being nervous, yet the media studies graduate from the University of Virginia, who claimed two NCAA collegiate singles titles in three seasons, made a brilliant start, racing into a 3-0 lead and never looked back.
WINTER STORM WARNING: Spring snowstorm on the way for DC region
Cars travel on Interstare 50 westbound in Prince George's country as a late March snow storm hits the Washington D.C. region. An ample supply of moist air had been lifted to the colder levels of the atmosphere, where snow formed speedily.
Stephens lost eight matches in a row following her Flushing Meadows success, but clearly relishes playing on home soil and Kerber was unable to live with the 13th seed in the Florida wind. Her hitting, especially from the back of the court, was of the highest order and when she broke again, this time thanks to a brilliant lob, the first set was sealed.
"I'm like, what's going to happen to Crandon Park?"
"I saw the match yesterday against Venus, many down-the-lines from the backhand side, so I was expecting a very tough match", Ostapenko said in her on-court interview after a 7-6 (1), 6-3 victory. I'm just trying to fight for every point and be more consistent and I think I'm getting there in my form.
The leader among the semifinalists for aces, first-serve points, and service games won before the match, Collins failed to rely on her supposed strength, simply because Ostapenko used her serve more consistently to take the initiative.
"Really what it comes down for me is keep doing what I'm doing and just keep that feeling that I'm having on the court", he said.