American Frances Tiafoe wants to be a role model and inspire black kids to take up tennis

Tiafoe, 22, was born to immigrant parents from Sierra Leone, with his father working as a janitor at a tennis centre

Reuters May 27, 2020 14:40:51 IST
American Frances Tiafoe wants to be a role model and inspire black kids to take up tennis

American Frances Tiafoe has already changed the lives of his immigrant parents thanks to his tennis career and the 2019 Australian Open quarter-finalist hopes he can also inspire more black kids to take up the sport.

American Frances Tiafoe wants to be a role model and inspire black kids to take up tennis

Frances Tiafoe celebrates after his win over Juan Martin del Potro. Image courtesy: Twitter @DelrayBeachOpen

Tiafoe, 22, was born to immigrant parents from Sierra Leone, with his father working as a janitor at a tennis centre in Maryland while his mother had to work double shifts as a nurse to help the family make ends meet.

He rose to a career-high ranking of 29 after reaching the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time in Melbourne last year and has already made almost $3.5 million in prize money.

Tiafoe told the men’s ATP Tour he wanted to be an inspiration.

“I want to be known as a guy who was caring for the fans, a guy who wants to really build an unbelievable legacy,” said Tiafoe.

“My goal is to help more black people play tennis ultimately, and just to be a good role model.”

After reaching the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, Tiafoe said he had promised his parents 10 years earlier that he would change their lives.

Tiafoe says that while he had to give up a lot to focus on tennis when he was young he loved the game so much it did not seem like a hardship.

“It’s got to be a priority. You’ve got to be able to sacrifice certain things. You can argue I sacrificed doing normal things, just being a kid,” he said.

“But I was having the time of my life, so I was really just enjoying it and that’s all I wanted to do. “I was different than a lot of other kids.”

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