Victoria Duval was ranked 296th in the world entering the 2013 U.S. Open, but overcoming immense odds to survive seems to run in the family.
The 17-year-old Haitian-American defeated No. 11 Samantha Stosur—who won the tournament in 2011—by a score of 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 to notch her first victory in a Grand Slam and advance to the second round at Flushing Meadows.
No matter what happens from here, it will be a moment that Victoria Duval and her father, Jean-Maurice, will cherish forever.
As the New York Daily News' Stefan Bondy reports, Jean-Maurice Duval was buried alive approximately three years ago in Port-au-Prince, when a 7.0 earthquake devastated his native land and nearly left him trapped under his own home.
Fortunately, he was determined and managed to dig himself out of the rubble to safety, but not before suffering serious injuries—including a fractured vertebrae, a broken arm, broken legs, seven broken ribs and a punctured lung, per Sports Illustrated.
Due to an overcrowded hospital, emergency surgery was required in someone's backyard to keep him alive—after 11 grueling hours fighting for his life without any assistance.
None of that prevented Jean-Maurice Duval, an OB/GYN nicknamed the "Miracle Doc" for his incredible survival story, from seeing his daughter blossom into a magnificent athlete, culminating in her rousing win over Stosur.
His comments about the life-defining tragedy revealed his eagerness to move on, per Bondy:
I just forget about it. Because I’m thinking, you get into a big accident on your way and you can’t stand back and look at it. You fight again, fight for the next step and not thinking about the past.
Victoria Duval's upbringing wasn't easy even before then. In Port-au-Prince, at just seven years old, she and her cousins were held at gunpoint by robbers for hours before finally being set free. This prompted her family to move out of Haiti and relocate to Florida.
Between overcoming that scarring event and her father recovering from such a severe set of injuries—and sadly developing paralysis in his arm—tennis could have easily been placed on the back burner.
However, it's apparent that Duval has the type of game to compete with the world's best after this spectacular victory at the U.S. Open.
Despite what she has been through, she possesses a certain innocence and evident positive mindset of someone who can succeed in an often frustrating sport, per Sports Illustrated:
I am very goofy off the court. I think I’m very much a child at heart. On the court, you have to be a warrior because that’s just the sport we are in. Off the court, I think it’s important to have fun and be a good role model for other people. My motto is: Have fun.
Prominent celebrities such as rapper Lil Wayne and New York Knicks star forward Amar'e Stoudemire chimed in with congratulations on Duval's stunning achievement:
Nice win Victoria Duval! Keep it up— Lil Wayne WEEZY F (@LilTunechi) August 28, 2013
As Sports Illustrated noted, Duval remarked that Stosur didn't play her best, but that she would take the victory. She's already looking forward to the next match, which will pit her against No. 48-ranked Daniela Hantuchova.
Stosur hit 56 unforced errors to just 29 winners, deploying an aggressive strategy heavily reliant on her superior power and groundstrokes. To her credit, though, Duval stood her ground, responded frequently enough to cause Stosur to press, and ultimately capped it off like a champion with a forehand winner.
That's about as storybook as it gets.
With Duval's attitude and the obvious strength she draws from her own experiences and those of her father, the future is indeed bright for the Duval family.