This article appeared in the June 30, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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An American tennis player’s journey of hope

Toby Melville/Reuters
Frances Tiafoe of the U.S. celebrates winning his first-round match against Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, June 28, 2021.
David Clark Scott
Audience Engagement Editor

The sports calendar is jampacked with everything from the Stanley Cup finals to the Tour de France. But let’s spare a moment for tennis, and specifically Frances Tiafoe’s life story.

The son of immigrants from Sierra Leone, Mr. Tiafoe and his brother grew up living in a storage room at a tennis complex near Washington, D.C. His father worked there as a janitor. Frances didn’t have the designer clothes or gear of the kids who arrived in luxury cars. But he had game. 

His father told him to ignore the wealth gap and the gibes. “Don’t worry about how anybody else lives. And be grateful with what you have,” he said.

At age 8, Frances visited Africa for the first time, saw the poverty, and realized his father was right. “It made me understand that as an American citizen, I had opportunities and I was capable of doing whatever I wanted,” Mr. Tiafoe told The Defeated.

Mr. Tiafoe (ranked 57th globally) is now emerging as one of the top American players. On Monday, he took another step beyond his humble childhood. At Wimbledon, one of the biggest stages in tennis, Mr. Tiafoe defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas, the world’s No. 4 ranked player, in a major upset. He won again today – in straight sets.

If you’re looking for a young man who epitomizes grit and grace, strength and hope, watch for Mr. Tiafoe performing on the grass tableau of the All England Club. 

This article appeared in the June 30, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 06/30 edition
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