2012 US OPEN: 16-Year-Old Duval Loses To Clijsters And Says, "...I felt like the luckiest 16-year-old ever..."
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
|Victoria Duval of Miami, Florida during 2012 US Open first round.|
It is always gratifying to witness the inception of a career when a player experiences that first tour level match, especially when that match occurs at one of the four majors that comprise the Grand Slam. In this case the 2012 US Open.
Sixteen-year-old Haitian-American Victoria Duval was afforded just such an opportunity on Monday night when she played her first WTA Tour match against veteran and second-time-retiring Kim Clijsters of Belgium.
Duval recently won the singles title at the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships, giving her a wild-card entry to the US Open. Though born in Miami, Florida, Duval spent most of her first eight years in Haiti with her parents, including time training at the JOTAC Tennis Academy in Port-au-Prince. Her father, Jean-Maurice Duval, a doctor in Port-au-Prince, was injured in Haiti's 2010 devestating earthquake.
The 16-year-old began the first round match against Clijsters fearlessly. She seemed so delighted whenever she won a point and the crowd applauded her effort. She would look up into the stands and smile at what seemed to be incredible moments.
Though Duval lost the match 6-3, 6-1, the talent that brought her to this moment was obvious.
After the match Duval continued to delight during her interview.
"She asked me for a photograph for her memories, but I'm the one who should have been asking for a photo for my memories," Duval said.
"She's been my idol. I felt like the luckiest 16-year-old ever. I was really nervous, I was freaking out. I was so excited I can't even explain."
Clijsters said the tender years of her opponent reminded her of playing Steffi Graf at Wimbledon as a 16-year-old.
"It's been a very long time," Clijsters said. "I obviously wasn't in that position where I played my first-ever match on tour in such a big stadium.
"I played Steffi at Wimbledon and she was my big idol so it kind of takes you back through a lot of emotions and memories.
"We spoke a bit after the match. She was really sweet. She's a very nice girl."
Photos by: Getty Images