Inside the life of Frances Tiafoe: From poverty to huge net worth

Frances Tiafoe has risen into the public eye quite drastically over recent years, especially after he knocked tennis legend Rafael Nadal out of last year’s US Open. The American sensation ended Nadal’s 22-match unbeaten run in Grand Slams by beating him in four sets in the round of 16 last September.

Tiafoe only has one previous quarter-final appearance at a major tournament on his resume. The 25-year-old is currently ranked 14th in the world, which means that he is certainly punching above his weight.

But it is Tiafoe’s backstory that makes his achievements even more impressive and heart-warming.

He is the son of immigrants who moved to the United States from Sierra Leone, fleeing the civil war that enveloped 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, letting him play tennis as a hobby on the side.

Even as a junior he was a prodigal talent, reaching as high as world number two in the ITF Junior rankings.

At the age of 14, Tiafoe won the Les Petits AS, a tournament that has Nadal, Michael Chang, Kim Clijsters and Bianca Andreescu, among others, in its champion ranks.

A year later, he became the youngest player to win the prestigious Orange Bowl International Championship over in Florida. He then took part in the qualifying draw of the 2014 US Open.

By now his name was circulating among top players. Nadal sought out Tiafoe, then 16, as a hitting partner before the French Open. It spoke volumes to powers that be.

Tiafoe turned pro at 17 and made his Grand Slam main draw debut at the 2015 French Open. If this was to be as far as he would go, it remained a far cry from sleeping on the floor as a child.

At the US Open there have always been flashes of his brilliance on the hard courts.

Back-to-back first round defeats in 2015, on debut, and 2016 provided a wake-up call as to the levels required just to win one round at a Slam.

Fast forward to 2017 and there Tiafoe was, under the night sky, pushing Roger Federer in a five-set epic. Even Federer conceded after that Tiafoe was one of the most talented youngsters on the ATP Tour.

But his biggest triumph on court and, perhaps in life, would come as he beat Nadal under lights at last year’s US Open.

Following his dramatic win, Tiafoe said of his triumph over the Spaniard: “I felt like the world stopped. I couldn’t hear anything for a minute.”

But as it often does with Tiafoe, his mind cast back to the office in Maryland and to the struggles his parents faced to put him in a position to succeed.

He added: “I’m a son of immigrants, as both my parents grew up in Sierra Leone, before they came to the States. To see them experience me beat Rafa Nadal – they’ve seen me have big wins, but to beat those ‘Mount Rushmore’ guys?

“For them, I can’t imagine what was going through their heads. I mean, they’re going to remember today for the rest of their lives.”

So far in his career, Tiafoe has earned upwards of £5m ($6m) – not to mention the single £590,000 ($705,000) lump sum he earned for beating Nadal.

Tiafoe is never far away from tennis given he is going out with fellow tennis player Anya Broomfield. She made her debut on the WTA Tour after being handed a wildcard for the doubles tournament at the Coupe Banque Nationale in 2014.

Frances and Ayan have been dating for a while now and revealed their relationship in 2018.

The couple gained a lot of popularity in 2020, when they created a video with other tennis players to raise awareness of racial abuse amidst the death of George Floyd.

Tiafoe also contributed to the relief work during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. All of this fetched him the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award later that year.

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