Frances Tiafoe and WTA star Sloane Stephens have both endured significant highs and challenging lows in their careers over the past three years.
Bonded by difficulty and resurgence, Tiafoe says that the pair celebrated their respective victories – albeit virtually – after their opening-round wins at the All England Club Monday.
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“Me and Sloane were actually messaging, literally about that [the highs and lows]. I was so hyped for her. I’m a guy, I don’t know if you guys follow my social, but I’m a guy who if someone is doing well, I always show the love,” Tiafoe said. “Seeing her do so well in Paris, I loved it. She hasn’t done something like that in a while.
“Herself and then people forget, this girl won a slam, made finals of another one, won a Masters Series. She’s one of the best girls on tour arguably when she’s fully there. There’s no gimmick. This is a fact.”
Tiafoe, No. 57 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, overcame third seed Tsitispas on Monday 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 to earn his first win over a Top 5-ranked player. Having lost in the first round at the Australian Open and Roland Garros last year, he can relate to Stephens when results don’t go well.
“You start doubting yourself. It’s amazing how you win a couple of matches, everything is all forgotten,” Tiafoe admitted. “I think ultimately, it’s understanding that it’s not always peaches and cream. Everyone is going through certain struggles.
“You don’t even know what these guys are going through maybe personally, whatever the case may be. It’s not easy to always be playing at your top level. It’s just managing the highs and lows, but always understanding that you’re a baller, you’re capable. She’s so capable.”
Stephens defeated 10th seed Kvitova 6-3, 6-4 on Centre Court to advance on Monday. Tiafoe revealed they had joked with each other about advancing before their wins.
“I saw her today right before, she was coming up, I was going to practice. I was just like, ‘Sloane, I back you to win today. I’m not even worried about it’,” Tiafoe smiled. “She’s cracking up laughing. She’s like, ‘You better do the same thing’. I was like, ‘Hey, don’t worry about it’.”
“We’re great friends. First thing I came off, seeing if she won. That made me even happier. I’m happy for both of us.”