Auger-Aliassime, whose father was from Togo in West Africa, advanced to a Grand Slam fourth round for the first time on Saturday with a 6-1, 6-0, 6-4 victory over France’s Corentin Moutet at the US Open.
While the victory achieved a personal milestone, Auger-Aliassime said he also felt a responsibility to be a role model for the small but growing numbers of players of colour in the game.
“Seeing players from different ethnicities, different backgrounds reaching later stages of tournaments like these, I think it’s a really good example for people watching us,” Auger-Aliassime told reporters.
“I was thinking today that you want to send out a good message. You hope that you’re leading by example, that kids, in you, they see belief, that you can reach that whatever city, country, neighbourhood you come from.”
— Félix AugerAliassime (@felixtennis) 1599349369000
Auger-Aliassime said he was lucky to grow up in a “melting pot” of cultures in Quebec and one of the benefits of the global tennis tours was that they could reach into every continent.
Players were generally welcomed everywhere they travelled, he said.
“I just love to see people from everywhere,” he said. “It’s just a great message to send, to be open to diversity.”
American Frances Tiafoe, who advanced to the fourth round with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Marton Fucsovics, echoed Auger-Aliassime’s sentiments and said he wanted to serve as a mentor for the younger Black players coming through the ranks.
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— US Open Tennis (@usopen) 1599366048000
“I’m not going to let these guys fail,” said Tiafoe, who was born to immigrant parents from Sierra Leone.
“Whether it’s tennis or whatever, I just want to see people of colour in my communities win.”
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