When Serena and Venus Williams came onto the scene as professional tennis players and began racking up victories left and right, the world turned to their history and found Richard Williams, their father, at the root of their glowing success. They say lightning doesn’t strike one spot twice but that appears to be happening again with Naomi and Mari Osaka, two upcoming tennis players who are led by their own father, Leonard Francois.
Just like Richard Williams, Leonard Francois took over the development of his two daughters at a young age and has been able to transform them into International stars, with Naomi Osaka going as far as to win the U.S Open in 2018, beating her idol Serena Williams in the final.
Here is a look at the life of the architect of her stardom, her father, Leonard Francois.
Leonard Francois Biography
The multicultural future of the world has played out in different forms, so much that it has come to be an accepted norm for millions of people around the globe but despite the wide acceptance and normalization of inter-racial marriage and relationships, some unions still pull off a surprise, not just in the marriage but all the way to the resulting offspring. That is the story of Leonard Francois, a former Haitian tennis player who found himself in Japan and fell in love with a Japanese woman.
Because Leonard prefers to keep the spotlight on his daughters, there has been very little available information about his background, with the only known information about him starting off in Japan, after he had relocated to the Asian country from New York where he spent a fraction of his childhood.
He met his wife, Tamaki Osaka when he was in Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido. Following graduation from college in Sapporo where they met, both Leonard Francois and Tamaki relocated to Osaka where he began working and they had their daughters, Mari and Naomi.
One random night in 1999 when Leonard Francois was watching the French Open which the Williams sisters were dominating, he got inspired to teach his daughters the sport to achieve the same feat as the Williams. Combined with the little experience of tennis he had from playing in his younger days and the blueprint which had been outlined by Richard Williams, Francois began a journey that would one day create two of the best players in the world of tennis.
In 2001, he relocated his family back to the United States, when Naomi, his younger daughter, and most prolific athlete was three years of age, and soon after, he began the execution of his plan to turn his daughters into global stars.
After five years in New York, having started training his daughters on how to play and hit the ball, Leonard Francois relocated them to Florida in 2006 where he continued their training at Pembroke Pines Public Courts.
The journey he put his daughters through has mostly brought significant global recognition through Naomi, who has won a couple of WTA tournaments and a grand slam, beating one of the women that inspired the journey her father put her and her sibling through.
Other Facts About Him
1. His Wife was Estranged From Her Family For 15 years
For much of the glamour and interesting results that come off inter-racial relationships, the fallout from family members who disapprove is often great and both Leonard Francois and Tamaki Osaka experienced that in great length after Tamaki informed her parents of her relationship with the Haitian. His wife was subsequently cut off from the family and did not reunite with them until 15 years after when they returned to Japan with their two daughters in 2008.
2. Leonard Francois Homeschooled His Daughters
As part of his commitment to making stars of his daughters, Leonard Francois, rather than send his daughters off to an American high school, chose to homeschool them, intertwining their academic education with their tennis education. According to Leonard, it is one of the ideas he picked up from Richard Williams’ training blueprint.
3. He Wanted His Daughters To Represent Japan
Although he spent a fraction of his childhood getting raised in the United States and also raised his daughters in the United States, Leonard Francois thought it best to make her daughters represent Japan in international tennis and it is a decision that has paid off thus far as her daughter, Naomi is the highest ranked female Japanese player.