American tennis stars Jessica Pegula (L) and Frances Tiafoe

The stories of Frances Tiafoe and Jessica Pegula

The US Open is always buzzing with stories and journeys of home-grown talents and local heroes, and the 2022 US Open was no exception. This year, two such players captured the attention of the tennis world, making deep runs and bringing great joy to American tennis fans.

Jessica Pegula reached the quarterfinals of the women’s singles event, while Frances Tiafoe stunned Rafael Nadal en route to the semifinals of the men’s singles event. The tournament was an important step in the careers of both players. But their respective career-best performances in their home Grand Slam earned them many more fans, but they aren’t the only similarities between the dynamic duo.

The story of Jessica Pegula – daughter of billionaire couple, owners of Buffalo Bills & Buffalo Sabers

2022 US Open - Day 10
2022 US Open – Day 10

World No. 5 Jessica Pegula is the daughter of Terry and Kim Pegula, who own the NFL team Buffalo Bills and NHL side Buffalo Sabres. Terry Pegula is a billionaire businessman and petroleum engineer. He is the co-owner of Pegula Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Bills and Sabres. Terry’s net worth is estimated to be over $7 billion. Meanwhile, Jessica’s mother Kim is a businesswoman and co-owner of Pegula Sports and Entertainment, along with her husband.

Despite coming from a wealthy background, Pegula decided to leave a mark on her own terms and a love for tennis led to her journey as a professional sportsperson and becoming the highest-ranked American female tennis player. Pegula has spoken about the same in the past, stressing that she always aims to stay down-to-earth, despite the fame and attention that automatically follows her owing to her family background.

She further reflected on that aspect of her life during her 2022 US Open campaign. Pegula said that many people from her Buffalo neighborhood follow her at various tennis tournaments in the US, mainly because of their affection for the Bills and Sabres. She is proud of the fact that she has attracted a lot of new fans to tennis.

“There is a lot of people from Buffalo that are kind of all over the place, you always find somebody that’s a Bills and Sabers fan. And to me I think I have more embraced it and find it kind of fun and cool that these people , because there’s not a lot of tennis in Buffalo, know nothing about tennis but they will come and watch the match in Cincinnati or here or wherever, just because they are like a fan of the teams,” Pegula said during a press conference at the US Open.

“I think it’s cool that way that I can kind of embrace and show tennis maybe a little bit more to Buffalo and give them something to root for because they definitely like getting behind their sports team. It’s been a fun experience.”

The American No. 1 was also joined by some of her family members who were in the stands during her US Open campaign. While her brother and sister were there, Pegula said that her father prefers watching her matches from home because of the stress involved when present at the stadium.

It’s been quite a year for Jessica Pegula! That’s three Grand Slam quarterfinal appearances in 2022. https://t.co/SaQxXizJ5t

Frances Tiafoe brings the crowd to her feet at US Open 2022

2022 US Open - Day 12
2022 US Open – Day 12

Frances Tiafoe’s story has been inspirational to many and the American youngster’s US Open journey has been a culmination of the hard work put in by him and his family over the years.

Tiafoe is the son of Frances Tiafoe Sr. and Alphina Kamara, who both immigrated to the United States from Sierra Leone. Frances Tiafoe’s father came to the US in 1993 and his mother in 1996 to escape the civil war in Sierra Leone. Tiafoe Sr. was a maintenance worker and was part of the construction crew at the Tennis Center in Maryland, where Frances began to play tennis at the age of four.

Frances Tiafoe becomes the first Black πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ man to reach a #USOpen semifinal since Arthur Ashe in 1972. He did it on the court named after Ashe. #BeOpen https://t.co/IEJtqCe2vo

Tiafoe revealed that his family comes from a humble financial background and that his mother was a nurse who worked two shifts and overtime hours through most nights. He said that tennis was a way for him and his twin brother Franklin to ‘get out of the neighborhood.’ Tiafoe reflected on the challenges from his past and his pride at being able to come a long way from there, during a recent press conference at the US Open.

“Yeah, I mean, us being around tennis was kind of gets us getting out of our neighborhood,” Frances Tiafoe said. My dad kind of being able to watch us. It wasn’t anything supposed to be like this. Once we got in the game of tennis, it was like my dad was like, It would be awesome if you guys can use this as a full scholarship to school. I mean, we couldn’t afford a university. So use the game of tennis.”

Tiafoe further revealed that watching the likes of Serena and Venus Williams make it big in tennis, who also came from difficult backgrounds, motivated him to become a tennis player.

“At that time watching Serena and Venus play finals of Grand Slams at that time, when I was super young. I was like, how cool would it be to play Wimbledon, to play on Arthur Ashe and stuff like that,” he expressed.

At the US Open, Tiafoe had his best-ever performance at a Grand Slam tournament, reaching the semifinals of a Major for the first time.

Both Tiafoe and Pegula have been quite popular for a few years now. And they continued to draw crowds in large numbers for their matches during their 2022 US Open campaigns. The pair will hope for deeper runs and more success in the tournaments to come.


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