Learn all about Leonard Francois – the father of the Osaka sisters, Naomi and Mari
Naomi Osaka is one of the most talented players in the sport currently. At the age of just 24 she already has four Grand Slams to her name which includes two Australian Open and two US Open. She is currently World No.13 in the WTA rankings.
However, when it comes to Wimbledon and French Open she has struggled in those circuits as she has never managed to be ahead of round three in those Grand Slams. However, she has a total of seven titles in her trophy cabinet.
On the other hand, Mari Osaka has not that been successful when it comes to professional tennis. There is not much to talk about her career as she has never won any tournament. And because of consistent injuries, she was forced to retire earlier this year at just the age of 25. Mari made her debut at the WTA tour in 2014, in the doubles event where she lost in the first round and the same happened when she made her debut in singles five years later. She was knocked out in the first round there as well.
Who is the father of Naomi and Mari Osaka?
Naomi’s family is Haitian and Japanese. The Former World No.1 father is Leonard Francois, who hails from Haiti. Leonard never was a professional tennis player or coach but was inspired by the story of Venus and Serena Williams being coached by their dad. After that, he decided to take the baton in his hands and started coaching the Osaka sisters. Francois once revealed that “the blueprint was already there” and he “just had to follow it” to set his daughters on a similar path as the Williams sisters. Francois always follows his daughter’s training and matches just like Richard Williams.
During an interview, Naomi even revealed that her father is always very nervous during her matches.
“I think he might take long walks, because maybe my matches stress him out.
“When I was growing up my mum always worked. She was working a lot because my dad was always with us. He was the one who was our coach.”
Leonard Francois personal life
Leonard met her wife Tamaki Osaka while the latter was visiting Hokkaido as a college student. The couple affair started soon but they never told that to their parents. One day, Osaka’s father wanted her daughter to settle down and that was the day she told him about Leonard.
During that time interracial relationships were not allowed in Japan and when her father came to know about that – he didn’t take it in a sporting way and was upset. He even told her that she has brought disgrace to the family. Despite all the problems – the couple stood together with each other and got married. Eventually, after a few years – the Tamaki family accepted Leonard. The family then relocated from Japan to Long Island to live with Leonard’s parents. At that time Mari was 4 and Naomi was just 3.
He began their training there. Francois relocated them again in 2006 to Florida where he continued to coach them hoping one fine day they will become a global sensation and he was surely right when it comes to Naomi. He then sent Naomi to Pembroke Pines Public Courts to further enhance her skills. And soon she became a star and talking point in the WTA circuit.
Motivated Leonard Francois
All was not easy for Leonard. Early in his life, he had to take the challenge of being accepted by the parents of her wife, when interracial marriage was seen as some kind of sin. But he stood tall and had the motivation to stand with her wife and fight against the world to keep his love alive.
Then without any prior knowledge and experience in tennis – he gave his best shot to make sure his daughters become successful one fine day. He is a very private man and keeps it to himself. He has hardly interacted with the media despite being on the sidelines during Naomi’s training and matches.
More about Naomi’s career
The 24-year-old has won four Grand Slam titles. The first one came at the US Open in 2018, when she stunned Serena Williams in the controversial final which the latter was given a one-game penalty. She followed it with a win at the Australian Open in 2019. She then went on to win US Open again in 2020 and the Aus Open earlier this year.
She was once again looking good in this year’s US Open but was stunned and stated that she might take a break from the game. Eventually, she took that break and also spoke about the mental health issues she is dealing with. Osaka had the honour of lighting the Olympic flame in Tokyo as well. However, she was knocked out of the tournament in the third round.
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Off late Naomi has come out and said that she will be returning to the court soon.
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