Frances Tiafoe sparked a social media movement, “Racquets Down, Hands Up,” which earned him the prestigious Arthur Ashe Humanitarian award presented at the 2020 ATP Tour Awards.
In response to the tragic shooting of George Floyd in May, Tiafoe and his girlfriend Ayan Broomfield united the Black tennis community in a peaceful protest on social media by having players share a video of them putting their racquets down and hands up. Notable players and industry leaders who participated in the movement included Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Coco Gauff, Gael Monfils, Sloane Stephens, Jo Wilfred Tsonga, and Katrina Adams, among others.
In addition to his social movement, Tiafoe worked closely with the USTA Foundation to give back to the community at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. He participated in a series of webinars that connected and engaged players at National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) centers across the country.
Tiafoe participated actively in JTCC’s community outreach program for years serving as a mentor to area youth by coaching clinics in underserved areas.
He joins an impressive list of recipients of the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award, including James Blake, John McEnroe, and Andy Roddick. In acknowledgement of the prestigious award, Tiafoe penned a poignant letter to his childhood hero, Arthur Ashe:
“I [want] people to know that everybody matters. It does not matter who you are, where you come from, or what the color of your skin is. Everybody has the opportunity to be something special. I was one of those kids who did not have a great chance of making it this far. Winning this award is just a reminder that now that I’m here, I need to pay it forward and help the next generation.”
Tiafoe concludes the letter with a humbling promise:
“I know I have to keep working every day. I have been lucky enough to make a living. Now, it is time to make a life. You did more than your share for the world. I promise I will always do mine.”
Frances Tiafoe has made a living. Now, he wants to make a life.