As a tennis fan, nothing makes me happier than when the sport and its athletes transcend the sports pages and crossover to the front page of newspapers or the other areas such as entertainment, politics and other types of sports.
And it’s not always a member of the Big 3 or the Williams sisters who can make that crossover happen as we saw in the case of Americans Frances Tiafoe and Chris Eubanks in recent times.
Earlier this month, Tiafoe became only the third African-American man to reach the Top 10, joining Arthur Ashe and James Blake. But the American had already became one of the game’s biggest crowd-pullers at the time of the 2022 US Open when none other than : former first lady Michelle Obama came to watch his match against Rafael Nadal in the round of 16.
“Bro, the craziest thing,” Tiafoe said on our last video “All on the table, tennis talk like never before”. “One of the craziest experiences I’ve ever had. I didn’t know she was in New York until I walked on the court. I put my bag down, I looked up and I was like ‘Aw, hell.’”
Eubanks, who won the first ATP singles title of his career on Saturday, had a similar experience in March during the Miami Masters when Hollywood superstar Jamie Foxx was in the audience to watch him.
“Just the fact that he came, I was like, he really, like, showed up to watch me,” said Eubanks. “He loves tennis. He talks about Jimmy Connors, he talks about Ile Nastase. He talks about all of it.”
Foxx’ appearance in the Miami stands even blew Tiafoe away.
“Jamie Fox, when you’re playing the Miami quarters, he wasn’t coming to watch you and 14 other guys, he came to watch you,” Tiafoe said. “And that’s the dope thing. He got on a plane, to watch Chris Eubanks. And that feeling you can’t get buy it. Battling and seeing him in a box, knowing that he came to see you. That’s tough. That’s tough. That’s when you realize you did some good because they aren’t just going to pull up [for anybody],” Tiafoe says.