Frances Tiafoe told reporters after his second-round clash at the US Open that the lives of black people "mean just as much as the person to the right or left of us".
Tiafoe, who returned a Covid-19 positive test at the All-American Team Cup exhibition tournament in Atlanta back in July, went the distance against Australian John Millman in their clash on Court 11.
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The 22-year-old emerged a 7-6(6) 3-6 1-6 6-3 6-3 winner, and used his post-match press conference to address the issues of police brutality and racial inequality in America.
“Look, it's been a thing, family members, everyone that's close to me, I feel like it's a thing. If you're in the wrong place, wrong time, yes, everyone is in fear. You try to do the right things,” began Tiafoe.
It's not right. Because we definitely matter. We definitely mean just as much as the person to the right or left of us.
“But, I mean, for me, it starts with young guys, starts with our communities, starts with representation, you know, really helping, you know, people of colour. And especially being African American, it's not just about taking care of yourself and your family anymore. It's not about that. It's about taking care of your communities, taking care of -- just putting African Americans in a position to win.
“I think more than that it would uplift everybody. Because, I mean, such a great culture, you know. It just needs to be showed for.”
Tiafoe also reserved praise for Naomi Osaka’s continued focus on racial injustice, a day after she wore a mask featuring the name of Elijah McClain.
“Oh, I mean, Naomi, that's my guy,” added Tiafoe.
She's special. She's special on and off court, what she stands for. I have been a fan ever since she popped off in the Open here a couple years ago, and even before that. Always nice and quiet. But to see actually her use her platforms and go crazy, it's special. You tip your hat off to that.
"I'm proud of her and I keep hoping she's doing the same thing. I'm going to try to do my things on my front. Sloane is too. I know the Williams sisters are. All these guys. Yeah, I'm just happy to be a part of that list."
Osaka has worn mask bearing the name of Breonna Taylor and McClain to raise awareness of their deaths.
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