Frances Tiafoe became a global sensation after he beat Rafael Nadal to reach the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open. The feat made him the youngest American man to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinal in 16 years at age 24.
Tiafoe’s story starts with his parents, who emigrated from Sierra Leone at the height of the country’s civil war in the 1990s. His parents met in the U.S. and settled down in Maryland, where they had twin boys, Franklin and Tiafoe, according to the New York Times.
His father, Constant Tiafoe, worked for the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md., and was later promoted to become the maintenance director of the facility. He leveraged his role to spend time on the court with his children.
Tiafoe became obsessed with tennis, after displaying a unique passion for the game and watching lessons to improve his skills to the admiration of his father and others. He was later trained by a Russian junior coach Misha Kouznetsov.
For Tiafoe, tennis started as a vehicle to secure a university education, which appeared possible with a scholarship, according to the NYT. His father quit the training center to start his own business and ended up working at a car wash while his mother, Alphina, worked as a nurse.
“It wasn’t anything supposed to be like this,” Tiafoe said after defeating Nadal. “Once we got in the game of tennis, it was like my dad was like, ‘It would be awesome if you guys can use this as a full scholarship to school.’ I mean, we couldn’t afford a university. So, use the game of tennis.”
Eventually, he relegated education to the background to focus on tennis. At just 14 years old in 2012, he won the prestigious Petits As tournament in France. The following year, he won Orange Bowl, a top tournament near Miami for the world’s best juniors.
Despite showing early signs of brilliance at age 14, he only turned professional in 2015 and only made it to the third round of a major tournament only once, at Wimbledon in 2018.
After making it to his first semi-final appearance at the 2022 US Open, Celebrity Net Worth reported that he earned $705,000. The platform further estimates his net worth at $3 million.