Frances Tiafoe, one of the most talented Next Gen players on the tour, was born into a family of Sierra Leone immigrants. During his childhood, he used to sleep at the tennis club where his father worked, most of the times on the floor or foldable tables.
His tennis game’s base is self-taught, he learned by checking out the advice given to children whose parents could afford tennis classes. He played with his twin brother Franklin, using discarded material, and hit balls against the wall.
Today, perched on the 34th place of the ATP ranking, Tiafoe can rightly consider that his struggles and determination paid off. “It’s a movie, man, an absolute movie. I say it all the time,” the American confessed to the Guardian, mostly about his rise during the 2019 Australian Open.
“A couple of times I was bursting out in tears because I was like, ‘Damn, I’m doing it.’” “Sleeping on folding tables in the office,” Tiafoe said, “was where my adventure started.
I was thinking, ‘How’s this story going to end?’ I saw tennis as the way to get me somewhere else. It was me thinking: ‘Can you imagine if we do this right? It would be incredible. You can’t make it up.’ I want to use the story now to inspire others.
You don’t have to be from the upper echelon to be great. If you want something in life, go get it. [...] I was always thinking, ‘There’s got to be something more than this.’” When talking about what motivated him to give the first steps to a bright future, the 21-years-old explained, “My dad played a special role.
He said: ‘Look, you could have the last laugh. You’ve got an amazing opportunity.’” About the wealthier children who Tiafoe witnessed getting classes on a daily basis, the American recalls his father saying, “‘They’ve got chauffeurs.
That’s cool but is it theirs? No, they were born into it. You can earn yours.’” “It made sense. I was born into a poor family but my family’s good. I’m good and I’m going to do something great”.