A teenage American girl with a squeaky voice and an incredible tale of survival stole the spotlight at the US Open on Tuesday with a stunning upset win over the former champion, Sam Stosur.
Making her second appearance in a Grand Slam against the Australian who beat Serena Williams in the final just two years ago, the pint-sized Duval clawed and fought her way to a 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 first-round win.
It was a remarkable performance but made all the more astonishing because of her background.
When she was seven years old, Duval was taken hostage by robbers at her aunt’s house in Haiti, a terrifying incident that convinced her parents, both doctors, to move back to the United States.
“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,” she told reporters.
In 2010, her father was buried alive in the Haiti earthquake. He survived by digging himself out but suffered serious injuries, including broken legs, broken ribs and a punctured lung.
“There’s a lot to be thankful for,” she said during her on-court interview after the win. “I don’t take anything for granted. You never know what can happen any day. My dad’s fortunate to be here. ... I thank God every day for everything that’s happened. Life is short.”
Duval took to tennis instantly and has quickly risen through the American junior ranks but Tuesday’s win was by far her biggest.
“I think I’m very much of a child at heart ... (but) on the court, you have to be a warrior because that’s just the sport we are in,” she said.