In this mini-biography, we shed light on Leonard Francois’ life and the role he has played in his daughters’ success.
In 2018, Naomi Osaka defeated the then 23-time winner of the Grand Slam Serena Williams at the U.S. Open final, giving the world a new tennis superstar to fixate on. Almost every aspect of her life has already been covered by the media. However, little is known about the man who made Noami the talented and bright tennis star that she is today.
Leonard Francois, the father of Naomi Osaka, prefers to stay away from the limelight, and thus, not a lot is known about him except that his 22-year-old doting daughter and world tennis superstar sees him as the prime reason behind her success.
Leonard Francois and Tamaki Osaki’s Was Not a Fairytale Marriage
Leonard Francois met Tamaki Osaka in the capital of Hokkaido, Sapporo, where the two studied in the same college. They met and fell in love. After finishing graduation, they moved to Osaka in search of better work opportunities. It was in Osaka that Tamaki and Leonard became parents to two lovely daughters: Mari and Naomi.
However, Leonard and Tamaki’s was not a fairytale marriage. While they loved each other immensely, Tamaki came from a family that laid great emphasis on racial purity, and thus, when Tamaki revealed her decision to marry Leonard, she was ousted by her family which disapproved of their inter-racial love. Tamaki had no contact with her family for almost fifteen years, before reuniting with them in 2008.
Father Began Training Daughters Early
Leonard Francois decided to train his two daughters to become tennis players after watching the William sisters fiercely take on their opponents at the French Open of 1999. He, thereafter, moved his family to the United States from Japan in 2001, at which time Naomi was only three. He began their training the same year in New York.
Five years later, he moved to Florida to ensure his daughters were getting the best facilities. Leonard was so serious about his daughters’ training that he chose to homeschool them instead of sending them to an American school. He considered academic education important but did not want it to interfere with his daughter’s tennis aspirations.
Leonard Francois Was Greatly Inspired by Richard Williams
After Leonard Francois decided to teach his daughters tennis, his initial research made him an ardent admirer of Richard Williams’ coaching style. As a matter of fact, Leonard’s decision to homeschool his daughters was inspired by Richard Williams’ decision to homeschool his daughters. Similarly, Leonard also chose to train his daughters Mari and Naomi on clay courts as Richard had trained his daughters on the same type of tennis court. The move to Florida was also inspired by Richard’s decision to coach Serena and Venus in Florida.
It Was Father’s Decision to Make Naomi Represent Japan
Leonard Francois spent a small part of his childhood in the US. When he decided to coach his daughters, the first thing he did was relocate back to the United States. However, when the time came for his daughters to choose the country to represent, Leonard was convinced that choosing Japan would be more beneficial to his daughter’s career.
More importantly, Leonard had been angry that the Tennis Association of the United States refused to provide any help for his daughters’ training as they had never played a tournament and therefore, had no ranking to display on their resume. His decision and thinking turned out right when Naomi Osaka became the first-ever number one world tennis player from Japan.
Leonard Francois Supported Naomi’s Decision to Not Carry His Last Name
Many people presume that the Osaka sisters do not use their father’s last name as he was not present in their life or they did not enjoy a good relationship with them. The truth is, Leonard Francois enjoys a very special bond with both his daughters who also credit him for their success. As a matter of fact, he provided full support when his daughters decided to use Osaka as their last name as it is not only the last name of their mother but also the name of the town where they born.