“Serena is obviously an icon in tennis. Serena Williams, man, she's special, man. And Venus, too. They go down together,” Tiafoe said. "The Williams sisters, so much weight. You're in Black neighborhoods and Black culture, every time I say I'm playing tennis, they're like, ‘Oh, you do that Venus and Serena thing.’"
Tiafoe joins Serena in the US Open third round after a tight 7-6 (6), 3-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over John Millman on Friday. The world No. 82 is more than 15 years younger than Serena, but that hasn't played a factor.
"I'm so happy we have gotten so close over the years and I can call [Serena] a friend because I ask her questions," Tiafoe said. "Serena Williams and Venus Williams is why Frances Tiafoe is even a name.
"I had a similar come-up, and Serena Williams and Venus Williams are always going to be major GOATs to me, and I just hope one day I can be in the same sentence as them.”
The American also wants to have an impact along with fellow players like Naomi Osaka and Sloane Stephens in campaigning for social justice. The 2018 US Open champion led a delay of play at the Cincinnati tournament in protest against the shooting of Jacob Blake.
"She's special on and off court, what she stands for," Tiafoe said. "I have been a fan ever since she popped off in the Open here a couple years ago, and even before that. Always nice and quiet. But to see actually her use her platforms and go crazy, it's special... I'm going to try to do my things on my front."
Tiafoe, who grew up at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, M.D., would like to be a role model for his community.
''It starts with young guys, starts with our communities, starts with representation, really helping people of color," he said. "And especially being African-American, it's not just about taking care of yourself and your family anymore. It's not about that. It's about taking care of your communities, just putting African Americans in a position to win."
Tiafoe will face Marton Fucsovics in the third round on Saturday.