How Frances Tiafoe went from sleeping at a tennis center to the US Open semifinals: ‘I’ve come so far’
By Mike Reiss, USA TODAY
Updated, 8:59 p.m.
Photo by: Robert C. Schow II
Photo by: Rob Schow
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If tennis is an exhibition of human skill, “Frances” is an exhibition of human resilience.
In a few months, for the first time in nearly 20 years, the 26-year-old New York native will try for her first Grand Slam singles final. The first time in five years she’s played the tournament.
Tiafoe, the world No. 21, is a two-time U.S. Open quarterfinalist who’s won the prestigious $1 million tournament’s $600,000 US hard court money in three of the last four years. Her only other appearance in the finals was in 2011, when she lost to Serena Williams in the semifinals.
She’s played with a level of tennis greatness few other 18- and 19-year-olds have come close to, says former doubles partner Caroline Wozniacki, who plays with her on the Wozniacki Sisters’ tennis team.
“When it’s not the pressure of the moment, I always try to play with her because I know what she’s capable of,” says Wozniacki, who is the only woman in WTA history to beat Tiafoe.
Tiafoe’s been a fan favorite at the US Open since she was a kid, seeing her in action on the Arthur Ashe tennis center’s courts. She got her start as an exhibition player at the facility when she was in high school. She’d come over to sign autographs.
“She’s got a very nice demeanor — the way she plays — and she’s always been really kind to people and very nice to people,” says Tim St