Will NeNe Leakes be the first Real Housewife to take home a Mirror Ball trophy? She could hold it out in the Atlanta poster instead of a peach!

Dancing With the Stars Season 18 starts this Monday, March 17, and NeNe will show off her skills in the Cha-Cha-Cha. She’s partnered with Tony Dovolani, who has been on the show since Season 2, when he took Stacy Keibler to the Finals. Since then, he’s had a roller coaster of partners, mostly getting paired with less-than-skilled women, although he did have one champion in Melissa Rycroft.

Access Atlanta talked to Tony about all the competition this season, between the athletes and stars with major fan bases. What are NeNe’s chances to win?

"Before the season started, I probably would've handicapped us to about, like, making it halfway through,” Tony admitted. “But now that I've been working with her and [see] the type of work ethic that she has, and the way she's come into this open, I feel like she's going to go far with this. I'm really hoping that we make it all the way to the Finals." Nice! Tony is not prone to grandstanding, so he must really think neNe has potential.

Access Atlanta was glad to hear his confidence, adding that you don't have to be a professional athlete to get to the Finals… right? Tony agreed, saying, "You have to have a combination of both — you have to have personality, you have to have agility, you have to have skill." He said NeNe has a little bit of all of those, so now they just have to maintain that. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Tony said NeNe is in good shape, even after her health scare with a partially collapsed lung. He figured one of the reasons they paired him with NeNe is he's good with taking care of his partners, so he knows how to help her without pushing her too far.

Do you think NeNe and Tony could possibly make the Finals, and even win, or are you less confident in their potential? She may turn out to be a great performer — but what if her competitors are too?

DWTS Season 18 premieres Monday, March 17 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Source: Access Atlanta