Victoria Duval's tough road to U.S. Open helps her thrive

(CBS News) NEW YORK - It was a jump for joy felt around the tennis world. At the U.S. Open, 17-year-old American Victoria Duval, ranked 296th in the world, beat the 2011 champion, Samantha Stosur. It was only the second time Duval has played in a major tournament.

Asked what was going through her mind, Duval said "a lot of excitement."

Victoria Duval
Victoria Duval CBS News

"I was just trying to stay in the moment," she said.

After the match, she had a slice of pizza to celebrate. "I think that's about as much as I'll do," she said, laughing.

She was born in Miami but raised in Haiti. At just 7, Duval was one of several children held hostage at gunpoint for hours at a relative's house.

When the earthquake struck in 2010, her father, Dr. Jean-Maurice Duval, was buried under mounds of rubble. He suffered debilitating injuries but survived.

Duval has had a tough road off the court to get to where she is.

"I just use my experiences to help me in my tennis, but it's not something I want to think about," she said. "It just helps me realize that missing a shot isn't as bad as it may seem because there are just bigger things in life and just taking- appreciating every moment."

Victoria Duval's mother, Nadine.
Victoria Duval's mother, Nadine. CBS News

Duval's father is doing better now. He and her mother, Nadine, say their daughter's strength has helped them.

"She was always the one picking me up," Nadine Duval said. "'Mom, don't worry, everything is going to be OK.' When she wakes up in the morning, 'Are you happy? I want you to be happy.'"

Victoria Duval said she just likes "making everyone laugh."

"If I don't make someone laugh, I haven't accomplished something in the day," she said.

Duval said she has more to accomplish on the court. Off it, she's already learned what takes others years to understand.

Editor's note: Duval lost her match Tuesday night against 30-year-old Daniela Hantuchova, 6-2, 6-3. "I think today I couldn't quite get myself going," The Associated Press quotes Duval as saying. "But I've had a great experience this whole tournament."

  • Elaine Quijano

    Elaine Quijano was named a CBS News correspondent in January 2010. Quijano reports for "CBS This Morning" and the "CBS Evening News," and contributes across all CBS News platforms. She is based in New York.