James Cleverly, the new UK Foreign Secretary, and Frances Tiafoe, who beat world No.2, Rafael Nadal, at the US Open Tennis championships, have one thing in common. They both trace their origins to Sierra Leone. While both of Tiafoe’s parents were born and raised in Sierra Leone, Cleverly’s grandmother immigrated to the UK in the sixties (not quite sure).
They have both been celebrated and claimed by Sierra Leoneans both at home and abroad. President Bio tweeted a congratulatory message for Cleverly whilst his wife posted on Facebook congratulating Tiafoe.
James Cleverly was born on 4 September 1969 in Lewisham, London, to James Philip and Evelyn Suna Cleverly. His father is British and worked as a surveyor and his mother worked as a midwife and is from Sierra Leone. He was privately educated at Riverston School and Colfe’s School, both in Lee, London. Cleverly then trained in the army, but his training was cut short by a leg injury in 1989. He went on to gain a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management from the Polytechnic of West London.
After graduating, he worked for the publishing company Verenigde Nederlandse Uitgeverijen; he joined Informa as an international sales manager in 2002. Two years later, Cleverly joined Crimson Publishing as advertising manager. He became online commercial manager for Caspian Publishing in 2006. The following year, he co-founded web publishing company Point and Fire, turning over £550.91 in 2008
The son of Sierra Leonean immigrants, Tiafoe was raised at the Junior Tennis Champions Center(JTCC), a USTA regional training centre in Maryland, where his father worked as the head of maintenance. His unique background and success as a teenager led him to be widely regarded as a great prospect to become one of the next American tennis stars. At 15, Tiafoe won the 2013 Orange Bowl, the tournament’s youngest-ever boys’ singles champion. At 17, he became the youngest American in the main draw of the French Open since Michael Chang in 1989. As a teenager, he won the US Junior National Championship and enjoyed success on the ATP Challenger Tour, reaching nine finals and winning four titles.
Tiafoe broke into the top 100 of the ATP rankings in 2016. At the 2019 Australian Open, he reached the quarterfinals. At the 2022 US Open, he reached the quarterfinals, defeating seed players including No. 2 Rafael Nadal and No. 14 Diego Schwartzman.