22 year old American Frances Tiafoe is one of the rising stars in the men's game. Ranked No. 41 in the world, the 21 year old Tiafoe is in Auckland this week for the men's ASB Classic tournament. Tiafoe says he wants to inspire children from all over the world, that no matter what your background is, you can still achieve success, if you work hard.
Tiafoe and his twin brother Franklin were born to immigrants from Sierra Leone. Their parents moved to the United States to escape the civil war in their country. His father worked as a day laborer on a construction crew that built the Junior Tennis Champions Center (JTCC) in College Park, Maryland and continued working there and residing there with his family once the site was completed.
It was from those humble beginnings that the brothers started playing tennis, which eventually led to Tiafoe turning professional. In an interview to the Stuff, the American says, "I definitely get bored of telling it, that's for sure.
But I get it, it's not a normal tennis story. It's pretty unique in a sense, my parents had no background in tennis, tennis wasn't an idea for any of them. For me to be doing half of these things, talking to you guys, travelling the world and being able to put my parents in positions that they wouldn't have thought of their kid doing, let alone themselves.
I'm lucky, I'm happy, I get it. I'm blessed and I'm going to keep doing what I do. You can't say whether you come from wealth or you not changes the determination of the kid, and the parents as well. I had drive, my parents had drive, no one was lazy in the house.
It doesn't matter to me if you're rich or poor, as long as you have the drive and determination to be great, it's pretty irrelevant." Tiafoe says, "I want to inspire a ton of kids that it doesn't matter where you come from, it's all about where you're going.
To get more people of colour to play the game of tennis, that's what I love. I love being at the top of the game, I love doing some great things, but I want to let people know that if I can do something like this, anybody can.
I want to get to the point where I can make tennis accessible for a lot of people. Especially to people where things haven't come easy to them. If I can do that and the guys around me can build some unity and think about that, I think it will help the sport."