Frances Tiafoe Family Story: How a Slumdog Became America’s Number One

Frances Tiafoe’s results at the  2023 Wimbledon Tiafoe are on the verge of officially making him America’s Number One tennis player in the ATP Rankings. Tiafoe has been the most popular American tennis player for a good few years now anyway and no wonder considering his incredible journey and life story worthy of a Hollywood script. How did Tiafoe get here? How Tiafoe’s family helped his rise from nobody to an American darling? Why the former first lady Michelle Obama and Francis Tiafoe met?

Frances Tiafoe Family
Frances Tiafoe, USA, during rain delayed first round of 2023 All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, gentlemens singles, London, 05/07/2023; – Foto: SCHREYER – Photo by Icon sport

Frances Tiafoe Family

Frances and Franklin Tiafoe, twin brothers, were born on January 20th, 1998 in Hyattsville, Maryland. Their parents the immigrants from the civil war-torn Sierra Leone Almina Kamara and Frances Tiafoe Sr. The Tiafoe family lived in poverty and worked day and night simply to provide food on the table. Yet, a family united and determined to make the most of what little chances life throws in front of them. A story that not long from now a famous movie producer in Hollywood will be turning into a blockbuster. Let’s find out more about who the real characters of this family story are.

Frances Tiafoe Parents

Tiafoe’s father Frances Sr left Sierra Leone in 1988 and immigrated to the UK initially, before in 1993 he finally made it to the USA. Escaping civil war in his home country, poverty and racial abuse every step of the way Francis Sr refused to give up his dream. Not just that but 3 years after arriving in America, in 1996, he found a way to bring over his life Almina Kamara from Sierra Leone too, just as the civil war there was at its peak. Talking about those days Tiafoe’s mother says, “I was going to a funeral every week.”

The Tiafoe family doubled in size overnight in 1998 when the twins were born. Desperate to provide for their kids the parents worked endless low-paid jobs. Almina qualified as a nurse and she was working 4-5 night shifts a week. Frances Sr found a job as a day labourer at the construction site of the Junior Tennis Championship Center in College Park, Maryland.

Francis Sr’s hard-working attitude saw him offered the position of maintenance man once the centre was completed. He accepted and for the next 11 years of his life, he shared a 10-by-14-foot room with his two sons at the centre.

With their mother working long night shifts and their father working long day hours at the tennis complex Frances and his twin brother were staying for 5 days a week with their father. Having free access to the tennis courts after closing hours the Tiafoe twins started to play tennis as early as age 4. A year later their father found a way to bypass the centre’s fees and the brothers began training for free.

When Frances Tiafoe was 8-years-old the Russian coach Misha Kouznetsov spotted him and began coaching him. Not just that but for the next 8 years Kouznetsov paid every entry fee for Tiafoe to appear at tournaments and also Kouznetsov helped Tiafoe’s parents to move into a modest two-bedroom flat.

Making the most of the helping hands he was given Frances Tiafoe got inspired by his family’s tragic story of hardship and sacrifice. Talking about his family’s story Tiafoe said: “It humbled me and made me serious. It came into my head pretty quick to use tennis as a way to help not only myself but our family because they have sacrificed so much.”

Well, he has done that and more! Come June 2023 the boy from the slumps of Maryland has officially earned over $9 million in prize money from his tennis career.

Frances Tiafoe Girlfriend

Tiafoe’s girlfriend for the past 5 years is the Canadian amateur tennis player and model Ayan Broomfield. The couple have been together since 2018 and in a recent Instagram video, Tiafoe answered a series of rapid-fire questions. When asked: “Who’s your favorite role model?”, Tiafoe answered “Ayan Broomfield.”

The couple are happy together, and Ayan attends most major tournaments to support him. Still, with their schedules very busy right now they seem to be holding back on any wedding plans.

And, yes, we can confirm that any rumours in past years that Frances Tiafoe and Serena Williams have had a romance are not true. The two are good friends and have shared the court numerous times but there has been nothing more between them.

Frances Tiafoe
Mastercard Hopman team tennis championship Gala Evening; Serena Williams and Frances Tiafoe
Photo by Icon Sport

Frances Tiafoe Twin Brother

Frances Tiafoe’s twin brother Franklin followed the same path and shared the same hardships. Back in their childhood years at the Tennis Center, the twins converted a small office with one window into a living room for themselves and this was their home for 5 days a week for 11 years.

Franklin remembers those days in a recent interview: “Back then, we were so small that we could fit on the massage table side by side. My brother and I would talk about our dreams of playing pro tennis while we fell asleep on those massage tables.”

When Francis moved to the USTA National Training Centre at age 17 Franklin stayed back in Maryland. He played tennis for DeMatha Catholic High School and after that for Salisbury University. Franklin’s professional career never kick-started though and he continues to play tennis mainly at Challenger events.

Frances Tiafoe and Michelle Obama

Frances Tiafoe’s big arrival to the world stage was during the 2022 US Open when he reached the semifinals where he lost in an epic 5-set battle against the future champions Carlos Alcaraz. Becoming the first Black American in 50 years, Artur Ashe was the last in 1972, to go that deep at the US Open Tiafoe’s heroics naturally captured the attention of the entire nation.

The culmination of this attention was during his semifinal vs Alcaraz when the enigmatic former first lady Michelle Obama bought herself a front-row seat and during the entire 5-hour match supported and encouraged Tiafoe with passion and sincerity.

The culmination of all that was after the match when Tiafoe and Mrs Obama met. Michelle Obama told Tiafoe in the face, “You’re amazing!” and Francis still remembers this meeting fondly: “Seeing her there was crazy. Obviously, we all know what she means. Crazy. She sees me and she’s actually excited to see me. Yeah, unbelievable. Unbelievable night.”

Frances Tiafoe’s family are living proof that the impossible dream still exists and that for some people, when the stars align on their path, it becomes a reality. We wish Francis and his family all the best and hope they enjoy this dream for many more years to come!

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