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Frances Tiafoe Gets Unfiltered About Life on Tour in Conversation with PTPA

Frances and Franklin Tiafoe sat down with the PTPA over the summer to talk life on tour, breaking into the top 10 rankings, lessons learned from the NBA, growing the game, and much more. Watch the full conversation below.

The Importance of Players Associations

The PTPA and other players associations across sports exist to protect, empower, and advocate for the athletes’ interests only. As Frances put it, “Every sport has that. That’s the standard. I think it will help people…to fight for the players, for the rights of the players.”

Many other major sports have decades-old players associations that have fundamentally improved the professional athlete experience and players’ rights. The PTPA now exists to address similar challenges and opportunities for improvement for professional men’s and women’s tennis players worldwide.

Life on Tour

“It is a glamorous life, but it’s not as well,” Frances said regarding life on tour and fans’ misconceptions about the pro tennis player experience. And while Frances is one of the world’s top players, he also noted that life on tour lacks glitz and glam for the players outside of the top ranks.  

“There are a lot of really good players struggling, not getting endorsement deals, not making much money at all, and playing and just trying to make ends meet. Kobe’s dad said it best: ‘You’re either a tennis star or you’re starving.’”

Tennis’ Scheduling Challenges

Frances gave his take on one of the biggest challenges that tennis players face throughout their careers: match scheduling. Unlike athletes in other sports, tennis players don’t know when exactly their matches will start or end. Long matches, inclement weather and other issues can cause matches to be delayed well into the night or even into the early hours of the next morning, taking a significant toll on the players’ ability to compete at their highest level.  

As Franklin noted, “It’s unfathomable for an athlete outside of tennis to hear a story like this…[they’d] be like ‘That would just never happen.’”

Lessons Learned from the NBA

Frances and Franklin are huge NBA fans and have developed friendships with numerous players throughout the league. While Frances and his NBA friends are all professional athletes, Frances touched on some of the main differences between the professional tennis player experience and the NBA player experience including income potential, financial security, the sports’ cultures, and more. 

“When they shake Adam Silver’s hand their life is changed. When I sign a contract to turn pro with an agent my career has just begun. To really grow the brand, I got to win a lot of matches to make it.”

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