Superstars watching superstars – Tiafoe and Eubanks on the interaction of tennis and celebrity

When sports and culture meet and vibe off one another, that’s the place where tennis really heats up. Frances Tiafoe and Chris Eubanks talked about it in Paris and we were there to film.

Frances Tiafoe, Stuttgart 2023 Frances Tiafoe, Stuttgart 2023 – © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Tennis has always been for purists, but when the sport is operating at full potential it is about so much more. When tennis truly captivates it casts a wider net, bringing in fans of all ages and backgrounds into the sport that transcends borders and boundaries. 

UTS stars Frances Tiafoe, Chris Eubanks and Ben Shelton discussed this topic over dinner in Paris on the new UTS video “All on the table, tennis talk like never before” and the trio shared their vision for the sport moving forward. 

“Relax the stringency of tennis and allow people to come and have a good time,” Eubanks said. “Sports is entertainment – let them come and have a good time.” 

UTS is new, fresh and exciting, that’s what the fans want! 😍

“I’m not saying make it the wild, wild west,” Tiafoe adds with a smile, “but I’m saying make it a little more lenient.” 

Tiafoe and Eubanks bore witness to Serena Williams’ last match at the US Open last year and it made them recognize and take note of the very special charm that the 23-time major champion possesses. 

“There were some sisters there that looked like they never picked up a tennis racquet but they were Serena die-hards,” he said. “She established the bar so high.” 

“Serena’s not a tennis player,” Tiafoe adds, reflecting on the fact that the kid Williams sister is one of those rare athletes that can cause Beyonce and Jay-Z to rock up courtside. 

Tiafoe may be new at the game compared to Serena, but he’s got some tricks up his sleeve as well. Last year at the US Open, when he faced Rafael Nadal in the round of 16, he witnessed a truly miraculous sight in the crowd: former first lady Michelle Obama. Talk about transcendence… 

“Bro, the craziest thing,” Tiafoe explains. “One of the craziest experiences I’ve ever had. I didn’t know she was in New York until I walked on the court. I put my bag down, I looked up and I was like ‘Aw, hell.’” he said. 

The better we do the more faces we are going to draw to the sport

Chris Eubanks

Eubanks says that Tiafoe’s star-studded moment was well-earned. When you’re a rising star with an electric personality, stars start to collide.

“The one common denominator is that we do well,” he said. “The better we do the more faces we are going to draw to the sport.” 

Eubanks has had his star turn as well on tour. This year when he played in Miami, megastar Jamie Foxx was in the audience to watch him. The pair have become friends, but Eubanks is still blown away that the man who won the Oscar for best actor in 2005 has taken a shine to his game. 

Tiafoe is blown away as well. 

“Jamie Fox, when you’re playing the Miami quarters, he wasn’t coming to watch you and 14 other guys, he came to watch you,” he said. “And that’s the dope thing. He got on a plane, to watch Chris Eubanks. And that feeling you can’t get buy it. Battling and seeing him in a box, knowing that he came to see you. That’s tough. That’s tough.”

Eubanks reveals that Foxx is a tennis nerd deep down, like so many of us. 

“Just the fact that he came, I was like, he really, like, showed up to watch me,” said Eubanks. “He loves tennis. He talks about Jimmy Connors, he talks about Ile Nastase. He talks about all of it.” 

The message? Keep playing well and good things will happen. 

“That’s when you realize you did some good because they aren’t just going to pull up [for anybody],” Tiafoe says. 

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