Inside the Tour with Nina and Irina — Pro life from the perspective of The Little Giant, Danielle Lao

“I told myself, Danielle, if you can make a Grand Slam qualifying [draw] you are totally overachieving in life.”

American pro Danielle Lao turns her writing skills into podcasting magic to share her story with Inside the Tour co-hosts Nina Pantic and Irina Falconi. The University of Southern California alumna (Class of ’13) just hit a career-high of No. 169 after five years on tour thanks to her recent results, including reaching the final of a $60,000 ITF in Stockton, Calif.

She’s had a strong last few months highlighted by qualifying for her second straight US Open by beating the same player in the last round, Jana Fett (01:18). The 27-year-old explains how her college career helped her mature as a person (07:25) and how she came to write her Amazon eBook The Invaluable Experience (08:41) as well as how she learned to not compare herself to anyone else and just keep chasing her dream (12:54).

As Danielle gets ready to play the Australian Open for the first time, she has a painful story to tell about her history with the not-always-so-happy Happy Slam (19:55). It’s the tale of being an alternate for a Grand Slam qualifying draw and going through hope, heartbreak and, eventually, validation.

The Californian also shares some fun facts about herself like how her boyfriend, Nam Gip, holds a Guinness World Record for fastest 4-person marathon in a costume (25:33), her passion for baking—nothing is off limits, even French macarons (26:24), how she would have worked in finance had she not given pro tennis a chance (30:15) and why her Twitter handle “@TheLittleGiant” is appropriate because she’s 5’3” — just like Irina. (31:40).

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