He is one of his country’s brightest prospects on the tennis tour, but American star Frances Tiafoe says the lack of diversity in the sport makes him feel like an “outsider”.
The current world no. 81 reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in 2019, but says his success has always felt “different”.
As one of the few black men in the top 100, Tiafoe, 22, also believes he has had to work twice as hard to reach the elite level.
“I definitely feel like not everyone wants to see that success in me,” Tiafoe told CNN Sport’s Christina Macfarlane, saying he still felt the love from most fans.
“I feel like I’m taking something from someone who would have loved to do this.
“I definitely felt that because ultimately they don’t want us in power. I really think that’s a thing.”
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The American has urged other professional players to get involved in addressing the issue of diversity and has pledged to continue to fight for equality while he still has the platform to do so.
She credits the impact the Williams sisters have had on the game, but knows more needs to be done to address the balance.
Aware that not everyone has the resources to break into tennis’ elite — a recent study found that tennis players spend between $175,000 and $2 million a year on expenses — he says having role models can encourage other kids blacks that tennis is a sport. they can participate.
“Do we help everyone? Of course not, but I will certainly help as many people as I can. That’s my duty,” he said.
This lack of diverse representation was made abundantly clear when, along with his girlfriend and tennis player Ayan Broomfield, he created a protest video to raise awareness of racial injustice after the death of George Floyd sparked protests around the world.
In collaboration with a number of black players and coaches, including Serena Williams and Coco Gauff, she posted the “Rackets Down, Hands Up” video on her social media channels.
“I think if more people who have weight, who have a big platform, speak up, I think change can happen and you can be optimistic,” he said.
“Obviously, you see everything that’s going on in America right now, I think it’s a good idea to get together right now and try to talk.”
United States Tennis Association general manager of player development Martin Blackman told the website Undefeated that he would like to see more black men try to enter the sport professionally through the college tennis route.
According to Blackman, the issue of grassroots training has a role to play in getting more black kids to consider taking up tennis.
“If we had more African-American coaches in the community where the kids live, that would make a huge difference,” Blackman told Undefeated.
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Protests against police brutality, which had started peacefully, have intensified in the United States this week with protesters sometimes clashing with law enforcement.
US President Donald Trump has vowed to use the military if the widespread violence is not quelled, and peaceful protesters outside the gates of the White House were dispersed with tear gas on Monday.
Tiafoe says he understands people’s anger, but has asked protesters to avoid violence and promote a message of justice.
“I love the protests, I think it’s great but at the same time, amazing cities that have been there for many, many years, to see them like this hurts me,” Tiafoe said as he called for the looting to stop.
“Personally I don’t think that’s the answer. I don’t realize it, but at the same time I have the frustrations. It’s a hand thing.”
Magic Johnson says he still had “the talk” with his kids about interacting with the police
– Source: CNN
With no signs that the situation in the United States is easing any time soon, Tiafoe called for calm to find a better solution to the heartbreaking issues at the heart of the protests.
Currently in Florida, he has not taken part in any demonstrations, but said things would have been different if he had returned to his hometown of Washington DC.
“We are all equal, no one is better than the person to my left or to my right. We must all come together,” he said.
“Some people take their power a little too seriously, and that’s creating problems. We have to understand that everyone is just as important as everyone else.”