Teenage Dream: 17-Year-Old Victoria Duval Beats Former US Open Champ In Tennis Upset
Yesterday, 17-year-old Victoria Duval made national headlines and shocked the world when she beat a former US Open champ, Australian, Samantha Stosur. Duval was ranked 298th in the world and entered the Open paired against the 11th seed Stosur in the first round. This was Duval’s second Grand Slam match. She lost the first set 5-7 but then came back and won the match in two 6-4 victories against the former champ in a match that took 2 hours and 39 minutes. In the post game interview, the teenager with the tiny voice attempted to explain her emotions: “I was really happy. I mean, you can tell by all the jumping I did.” When an interviewer asked her how she was able to focus and pull of such an upset she said: “I just tried to stay in the moment.” And then added, “I don’t know, I’m just really excited right now.”
When she won congratulations on Twitter poured in. Unbeknownst to her. Duval doesn’t have a Twitter account but even celebrities like Amar’e Stoudemire and Lil Wayne offered congrats. When Duval learned of the news she shrieked: “Weezy F Baby?!?”
Yes gurl, please say the baby.
Though Victoria Duval’s only 17, she’s experienced quite a bit in those few short years. She got her start in tennis at just 7 years old when she would go along with her mother to watch her older brothers play in a tournament in Santo Domingo, Haiti, near her childhood home. As she was sitting on her mother’s lap, a family friend suggested Nadine, Victoria’s mother, let Victoria play in the tournament. At the time Victoria didn’t even know how to hold a racquet but she still managed to win the whole tournament, simultaneously abandoning her first love, ballet.
Victoria said: “After that, my mom was like, ‘OK, you have to choose now. Tennis seemed to be appropriate.”
Victoria’s backstory is truly inspiring. Enduring all that she has, it’s remarkable that she’s been able to achieve all that she has at such a young age.
Back in 2010, her father Jean-Maurice was injured in the 2010 earthquake that rocked the Caribbean nation Haiti. He had to stay behind to help run a medical clinic while Victoia trained and played in the States. He was buried alive for hours but was able to pull out of the rubble. He suffered injuries and a punctured lung during the process.
A family friend who the Duval’s know through tennis, Harry Kitchen, chartered a private plane to transport Jean-Maurice to the United States where he could receive treatment.
Of Harry Kitchen, Victoria said: “We’re forever grateful to them,” Duval said. “If it weren’t for them, my dad definitely wouldn’t be here today. Not everyone just pays $30,000 to fly a helicopter to save someone.”
The earthquake wasn’t the only near tragedy that befell the Duval family. While Victoria was born in Miami, both of her parents are Haitian and had it not been for a robbery turned violent, she might have continued growing up there. Victoria was with her aunt and cousins at their home when the robbery turned into a hostage situation. Victoria’s mother, Nadine, said her daughter was held at gunpoint.
Nadine rushed to the house to find the SWAT team there describing an operation. In French, “operation” is the same word for surgery so Nadine assumed someone in the home had been injured.
A year later the family moved to Boca Raton, Floria. Jean-Maurice, due to his injuries is no longer able to work in medicine. The family has had to rely on the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and other sources for support and training.
Tennis great Billie Jean King has also had a hand in Duval’s development. She tapped her to play on the Philadelphia Freedom’s World Team Tennis this summer and has become a mentor to Victoria. King sent her a text after her win.
Coach Toodd Morelle has also agreed to work with Duval pro-bono because he sees a champion in her: “She’s only going to get a lot better. She is half as good as she is going to be.”
We can’t wait to watch Victoria continue to dominate in the game of tennis and in life.
Watch highlight’s from Duval’s win and her subsequent interview on the next page.