Frances Tiafoe is one of America’s leading tennis talents
Frances Tiafoe has emerged in the public eye a lot in recent years, especially after he knocked out tennis legend Rafael Nadal from the US Open last year. The American sensation ended Nadal’s 22-match unbeaten run in Grand Slam matches by defeating him in four sets in the round of 16 last September.
Tiafoe has made only one quarter-final appearance in a major tournament on his resume. The 25-year-old is currently ranked 14th in the world, which means he certainly punches above his weight.
But it’s Tiafoe’s backstory that makes his accomplishments all the more impressive and heart-warming.
He is the son of immigrants who moved to the United States from Sierra Leone, to escape the civil war that engulfed the country in the 1980s and 1990s.
His father, a maintenance worker, and his mother, a nurse, worked day and night to give Tiafoe and his twin brother, Franklin, a good life, allowing him to play tennis as a hobby on the side.
Tiafoe is supported by his parents, especially his mother, wherever he plays
Even as a youngster he was a prodigal talent, reaching world number two in the ITF junior rankings.
At the age of 14, Tiafoe won Les Petits AS, a tournament that counts Nadal, Michael Chang, Kim Clijsters, and Bianca Andreescu, among others, in its ranks of champions.
A year later, he became the youngest player to win the prestigious Orange Bowl in Florida. Then he participated in the 2014 US Open qualifying draw.
By now his name was spreading among the top players. Nadal sought out Tiafoe, then 16, as a hitting partner ahead of the French Open. It spoke volumes to the powers that be.
Tiafoe, pictured here in 2017, made headlines in sports as a youngster
Tiafoe turned pro at the age of 17 and made his main draw debut at the 2015 French Open. If that’s as far as he can go, she’s stayed a long way from sleeping on the floor as a kid.
At the US Open, there were always flashes of his brilliance on the hard courts.
Back-to-back first-round defeats in 2015, upon debut, and 2016 provided a wake-up call regarding the levels only needed to win a single round slam.
Fast forward to 2017 and there Tiafoe was, under the night sky, pushing Roger Federer in an epic five-set. Even Federer admitted afterwards that Tiafoe was one of the most talented youngsters on the ATP Tour.
Roger Federer, pictured at the Laver Cup with Tiafoe, discovered his talent from an early age
But his biggest triumph on the court, and perhaps in life, will come when he beat Nadal under the spotlight at last year’s US Open.
After his dramatic win, Tiafoe said of his victory over the Spaniard: “I felt like the world stopped. I couldn’t hear anything for a minute.”
But as is so often the case with Tiafoe, his mind returned to the office in Maryland and the difficulties his parents had to put him in a position to succeed.
He added, “I’m the son of immigrants, as my parents grew up in Sierra Leone, before they came to the US. To see them try me beat Rafa Nadal – they saw me get big wins, but to beat those guys ‘Mount Rushmore’?
The 25-year-old made history after defeating Rafael Nadal at the 2021 US Open
“For them, I can’t imagine what was going on in their heads. I mean, they will remember the day for the rest of their lives.”
So far in his career, Tiafoe has earned over £5 million ($6 million) — not to mention the £590,000 ($705,000) he earned for beating Nadal.
Tiafoe isn’t far from tennis since he’s been hanging out with fellow tennis player Anya Broomfield. She made her WTA Tour debut after being handed a wildcard to the Coupe Banque Nationale doubles tournament in 2014.
He is in a relationship with Ian Bromfield, another promising young tennis player
Frances and Ayan have been dating for a while and revealed their relationship in 2018.
The couple gained huge popularity in 2020, when they made a video with other tennis players to raise awareness of racial abuse amid the death of George Floyd.
Tiafoe also contributed to relief work during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. All of this earned him the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award later that year.
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