Frances Tiafoe Honored with ATP's
Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award
Victoria Chiesa | December 21, 2020
American Frances Tiafoe was honored on Monday by the ATP Tour for his off-court impact in 2020 as the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award. During the nearly-six month hiatus prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Tiafoe used his time away from the tour to give back to the next generation and use his platform to advocate for change.
The 2019 Australian Open quarterfinalist, a longtime supporter of the USTA Foundation's National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) network since his days as a young player at Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md., participated in a pair of webinars with Foundation youth. In May, he kicked off a series of six webinars held for Excellence Program participants, aimed at keeping them connected and supporting them during the pandemic, and later joined James Blake and Venus Williams ahead of the US Open to speak with six teenage tennis players from NJTLs around the country about social justice and current events in the United States.ADVERTISEMENT
Alongside his girlfriend and fellow player Ayan Broomfield, the 2019 NCAA doubles champion at UCLA, Tiafoe also utilized his own social media to share an impactful message with the posting of ‘Racquets Down, Hands Up’, a video that united the Black tennis community in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. The video compilation featured many current touring players including Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Coco Gauff and Gael Monfils, as well as coaches and former players including Blake, past USTA president Katrina Adams, Chanda Rubin, MaliVai Washingon and Zina Garrison.
In the introduction to the video, Tiafoe said, "Ayan and I felt the need to reach out and express our feelings for what is and has been going on here in America," while Broomfield added, "We wanted to do a small gesture to spread awareness about the unjust deaths of many African-Americans here in this country. This is definitely bigger than tennis, and we all need to use our platforms to come together."
On the court in 2020, Tiafoe reached the fourth round of the US Open, his best result in six career main draw appearances. The 22-year-old became the youngest American man to advance that far at the event since Donald Young in 2011, and he later won his first ATP Challenger title in three years on the clay courts of Parma, Italy in October.
"It's humbling and honor to be part of a historic group," Tiafoe said in a video message where he thanked Broomfield, his family and those who participated in the video. "The message I want to give is to educate these young guys who saw the video, and hopefully, we can spread awareness around the world for many, many years."
The Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award, first given by the ATP in 1983 to John McEnroe, honors a person, not necessarily an ATP player, for their humanitarian efforts. Previous winners of this award include Americans Ashe, Blake, Washington, Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick, and former South African President Nelson Mandela. In tribute, Tiafoe also penned a first-person letter to the three-time Grand Slam singles champion after being bestowed with Ashe's namesake honor.
"I was lucky to be around the sport from a young age, even if I did not have the money or opportunities a lot of other kids did. None of that stopped me from dreaming big. I pushed myself to the limit every day with a big smile on my face," he wrote.
"Here I am, 22 years old, and I just found out that I won the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award. That little kid with big dreams now has his name associated with yours. That is insane. But I know this is not just an award. It is a tremendous honor and a massive responsibility. I am not just that smiley kid on the rise anymore. I know I need to carry the torch and make a difference in the world."