Celebs turn up for Tiafoe on Court 7

Queen Latifah, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah attend American star's opener

Frances Tiafoe, Roland-Garros 2023, first round© Julien Crosnier/FFT
 - Reem Abulleil

“Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Queen Latifah… it was celebrity row down there for sure.”

Frances Tiafoe is beaming as he lists the stars that turned up for him on Monday to support him in his Roland-Garros opening victory over Filip Krajinovic.

“It’s crazy. Bringing those guys on Court 7 is wild,” added the American No.12 seed.

“They could be doing so many other things, especially here in Paris, and they decided to come watch me, it’s testament to what diversity in sport does. Being able to bring guys like that, come watch a game of tennis, because of me, is great.”

It’s been a whirlwind eight months for Tiafoe, ever since he stole the show in New York by reaching the US Open semi-finals, knocking out Rafael Nadal en route.

Michelle Obama came to one of his matches on Arthur Ashe Stadium, he attended New York Fashion Week, he has rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest personalities in American sport, and he has loved every minute of it.

Is it extra pressure when his player box becomes a star-studded affair?

“I love it, I love it. You just want to show up because they’re there, and not in a nervous way, or a pressure way. I’m just like, ‘I’m going to put on a show for them, just like how they put on a show for millions of people. I’m just trying to do me. It’s more of an appreciation that they want to come and watch me,” said the 25-year-old.

Derrick Rose, Roland-Garros 2023, Frances Tiafoe entourage, first round© Loïc Wacziak/FFT

Tipping the heat

Tiafoe is a huge NBA fan and has been following the Boston Celtics’ comeback from 0-3 down in the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat.

With Game 7 coming up tonight (2:30am Paris time), Tiafoe admits he can’t stop himself from staying up late to watch.

“Every morning that’s all I speak about. I’ve been way better this year about not staying up and watching, like be mature and you know, you have a job to do. Today, I’ll be watching at 2:30am. Game 7, 3-0 deficit, I have to watch it. I don’t play again until Thursday, so there’s no excuse, I’m watching,” he said.

“I’m still believing in Miami. But I was talking to some of the NBA guys and they all think Boston. We’ll see.”

Is there a comparable feat in tennis to what the Celtics are attempting to do – becoming the first team in NBA history to come back from 0-3 down and win the series?

“That’s almost like… that’s like coming back from two-sets-to-love down against Rafa here at Roland-Garros, equivalent. You could argue that, and how crazy that is. Eastern Conference final, 3-0… the odds are so against you and the fact that they’re able to do this is crazy,” said Tiafoe.