Teen sensation Victoria Duval captured the attention of the tennis world and US Open Tuesday with a shock 57, 64, 64 upset over 2011 champion Sam Stosur in the first round. The bubbly bespectacled 17-year-old who was born in Haiti and now resides in Delray Beach, Florida, played another former champion, Kim Clijsters, tough last year. Yesterday, after having to qualify to make the tournament, the 297th-ranked Duval fought back from a break down to upset the 11th-seeded Stosur for what figures to be the first of many Grand Slam wins.
So who is this erkel-esque Duval?
On when she fell in love with tennis
Actually, my brothers played. So I was a ballerina before tennis. I would just run around and hit the ball. I could never hit the strings. My brother would go to this tournament in Santo Domingo every year. The tournament director said, Your daughter comes and sits on your lap. Why don’t you have her play in the tournament?
I was seven. I had no idea how to keep score, nothing. It was a 10 and under tournament, I think, and I won it. I had no idea where to stand on the court or anything. After that, my mom was, Okay, you have to choose now. Tennis seemed to be appropriate.
On her personality
I am very goofy off the court. I think I’m very much of a child at heart.
On the court, you have to be a warrior because that’s just the sport we are in. You know, off the court I think it’s important to have fun and be a good role model for other people. Just, I don’t know, have fun. My motto is ‘have fun.’
On growing up playing tennis
It was definitely financially difficult, especially after the earthquake. My dad wasn’t able to work anymore. I’ve been very fortunate. A couple family members have helped me. Hopefully with this win today, that will change a little bit.
On having her dad saved in the Hatian earthqauke by a helicopter
If it wasn’t for them, my dad definitely wouldn’t be here today. Not everyone just pays $30,000 to fly a helicopter to save someone. Great story. They’re [Harry Kitchen] amazing people. I mean, they’re angels. We couldn’t have found better people.
They wouldn’t let planes in because there was no runway. They I guess looked online for a couple hours. It was the only plane they actually let in Haiti. My dad, they found him after 11 hours. It was incredible. I mean, I don’t know. I’m so grateful, I don’t know how he managed.
He’s not [able to work]. But he’s improving so much. Emotionally it was hard at first. But he’s as happy as he’s ever been. He had a couple surgeries that helped take the pain away. We’re just so happy that, you know, he’s in a good state of mind right now. He’s just here with us. So it’s incredible.
On being held hostage when she was seven with cousins in Haiti
We were held hostage. It’s not a good memory, so I try to forget as much as I could about it. I don’t remember too much of it anymore, which is great.
On losing in the San Diego national 18s semis this summer now beating a US Open champion
Just forgetting about what happened before, because I’ve been changing a couple things in my game. So I knew eventually it would come together, and I did today. That’s all I can ask for.
On beating Stosur
Uhm, haven’t really thought about that yet. Obviously it’s a great feeling to beat a past champion. And Sam is amazing. Although she didn’t play nearly her best today, I played amazing, so I’ll take it.
I have to worry about the next match, so I can’t celebrate too much.
On her recent coaching situation
Well, I’ve been pretty much just practicing with my brothers. I was at the USTA for a year, and I was staying in the dorms. I’m back home right now. But I still have a great relationship with the USTA. They help me with everything I do. I guess I’m still part of the USTA, but I’m just home with my family right now.
I talk to [Nick Bollietieri] a lot. I mean, I’m not physically at IMG. I take help from everyone. We have a great relationship. I call him Uncle Nick.
On being with Madison Keys and Taylor Townsend
I mean, we’re obviously trying to make American tennis become what it used to be. We’re all working towards the same goal. We’re all a tight knit group. Helping each other is important. We’re all doing amazing. I think we’re on an amazing path.
On getting a tweet from Lil Wayne after the win
I heard that Lil Wayne tweeted me. I need to go check that out. I don’t have Twitter. I’m going to go hit that up. Maybe I have to create one and be like @weezythankyou.
On becoming a star
That’s what I’m working for. If God will let it, then let’s go.
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