Frances Tiafoe unites tennis stars in protest but feels some people don't want black players to succeed

US tennis star Frances Tiafoe says he feels like some people don't want him to succeed because he's black.

Posted: Jun 4, 2020 5:11 AM
Updated: Jun 4, 2020 5:11 AM

He's one of his country's brightest prospects on the tennis tour, but US star Frances Tiafoe says a lack of diversity in the sport makes him feels like an "outsider."

The current world No. 81 reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in 2019 but says his success has always felt "different."

As one of very few black men in the top 100, the 22-year-old Tiafoe also believes he's had to work twice as hard to reach the elite level.

"I definitely feel that not everybody wants to see that success in me," Tiafoe told CNN Sport's Christina Macfarlane, stating he still felt the love from the majority of fans.

"I feel like I'm taking something from someone that may have liked to do that.

"I definitely felt that because ultimately, they don't want us in power. I truly think that's a thing."

READ: Premier League players urged to take a knee in protest at George Floyd's death

Speaking out

The American has urged other professional players to get involved to address the issue of diversity and promised to continue fighting for equality while he still has the platform to do so.

He 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 everybody has the resources to break into the tennis elite -- a recent study found tennis players spend between $175,000 to $2 million per year on expenses -- he says having role models to look up to can encourage other black children that tennis is a sport they can participate in.

"Are we going to help everyone? Of course not, but I'm definitely going to help as many people as I can. That's my duty," he said.

Such a lack of diverse representation was all too clear when, along with his girlfriend and tennis player Ayan Broomfield, he created a protest video to raise awareness of racial injustices after the death of George Floyd sparked protests across the world.

In collaboration with a host of black players and coaches -- such as Serena Williams and Coco Gauff -- he posted the "Racquets down, hands up" video to his social media channels.

"I think if more people who have weight, who have a big platform, speak out then I think change can happen and you can be optimistic," he said.

"Obviously you see everything going on in America right now, I think it's a good idea to come together right now and try to speak out."

The general manager of player development for the US Tennis Association Martin Blackman told the Undefeated website that he'd like to see more black men try and enter the sport professionally through the college tennis route.

According to Blackman, the issue of grassroots coaching has a role to play in getting more black children to think about taking up tennis.

"If we had more African American coaches in the community where the kids live, that is going to make an enormous difference," Blackman told Undefeated.

READ: 'Rioting is the voices of people who have no voice,' says Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

US protests

Protests against police brutality, which had begun peacefully, have intensified across the US this week with demonstrators sometimes clashing with law enforcement.

US President Donald Trump has vowed to use the military if widespread violence isn't quelled, and on Monday peaceful protesters outside the White House gates were dispersed with tear gas on Monday.

Tiafoe says he understands people's anger but has called for demonstrators 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 that hurts me," said Tiafoe as he called for looting to stop.

"I personally don't think that's the answer. I don't condone it but at the same time, I get the frustrations. It's a hand-in-hand thing."

'We're all equal'

With no signs of the situation in the US easing anytime soon, Tiafoe called for calm in order to find a better solution to the heartbreaking issues at the center of the protests.

Currently staying in Florida, he has not taken part in any demonstrations but said things would have been different if he was back in his home city of Washington DC.

"We're all equal, no one is better than the person to the left or right of me. We all need to come together," he said.

"Some people take their power a little too seriously, and that's creating issues. We need to all understand that everyone is just as important as everyone else."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 291222

Reported Deaths: 6577
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19470226
Hinds18555383
Harrison16385273
Rankin12498260
Jackson12401216
Lee9635160
Madison9353193
Jones7836144
Forrest7055135
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Tate299172
Pike297792
Scott291367
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Simpson269278
Prentiss267158
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Wayne250140
Marion249478
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Jasper210343
Attala205669
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Holmes181470
Clay177348
Stone170729
Tallahatchie169039
Clarke167671
Calhoun155327
Smith151131
Yalobusha141936
Greene126333
Walthall123040
Noxubee122429
Montgomery120537
Perry120133
Lawrence118420
Carroll117123
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Webster108629
Jefferson Davis99831
Tunica97923
Claiborne97329
Benton92524
Humphreys91226
Kemper89222
Quitman76614
Franklin75319
Choctaw69316
Wilkinson62226
Jefferson60827
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 488973

Reported Deaths: 9660
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson703321342
Mobile35725716
Madison32088437
Tuscaloosa23913404
Montgomery22369481
Shelby21714209
Baldwin19554263
Lee14827147
Morgan13529243
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Marshall11197202
Houston10019255
Limestone9303130
Elmore9283179
Cullman8856176
St. Clair8747214
Lauderdale8541209
DeKalb8419173
Talladega7424161
Walker6466240
Jackson6450101
Autauga614384
Blount6058125
Colbert5973118
Coffee522299
Dale4606106
Russell400530
Franklin396575
Covington3918105
Chilton380096
Escambia375970
Tallapoosa3533138
Clarke342348
Dallas3385139
Chambers3382102
Pike292471
Lawrence280685
Marion277492
Winston244563
Marengo243454
Bibb243259
Geneva238168
Pickens223453
Barbour208450
Hale208064
Fayette198755
Butler194865
Henry181741
Cherokee175737
Monroe165538
Randolph161240
Washington155832
Crenshaw143052
Clay142554
Macon140344
Cleburne136139
Lamar130632
Lowndes130148
Wilcox120525
Bullock116033
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Sumter98231
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Coosa86323
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