Who is Leonard Francois?
Leonard Francois is a reputed name in the tennis community. While everyone knows that Naomi Osaka is one of the biggest tennis stars, not many may know much about the man behind the star player. he is Naomi Osaka’s father, as well as her tennis coach.
He also is a tennis coach. Leonard Francois started Naomi Osaka’s tennis training from an early age. His determination and mentorship helped Naomi Osaka become a world champion.
|Full Name||Leonard Maxime Francois|
|Birth Place||Jacmel, Haiti|
|Eye Color||Dark brown|
|Name of Wife||Tamaki Osaka|
|Children||2 (Naomi Osaka and Mari Osaka)|
Leonard Francois date of birth and age
Leonard Francois’s full name is Leonard Maxime Francois. He is a very private person. In fact, he has not revealed anything about his past to date.
As a result, his date of birth is unknown. It is, however, assumed that Francois was born during the 1980s. Thus, it can be said that he is currently in his 40s.
Nationality and Ethnicity
Leonard Francois is a Haitian national. He is originally from Jacmel, Haiti. Furthermore, Leonard is of African ethnicity.
Leonard Francois moved from Jacmel, Haiti, to New York, the USA, for his education. Apart from this, information about his major and his college/university is unknown.
Leonard Francois: Parents and Siblings
Leonard has not talked yet about his parents and his siblings. Hence, the names of his parents and whether or not he has any siblings have not been disclosed to date. In fact, there is no information about Leonard before his move from Haiti to the USA.
Leonard Francois: Wife
Leonard Francois’s wife’s name is Tamaki Osaka. She is of Japanese origin. Francois and Tamaki met in Japan when he visited the country in the 1990s. This was around the time when Japan allowed its first wave of foreigners in the country.
They met in Sapporo, the capital city of Hokkaido. Tamaki Osaka was a high school student at that time, and she belonged to a conservative Japanese family. During this time, interracial relationships were forbidden in the country. Interracial relationships were prohibited from maintaining racial purity.
As a result, Leonard Francois and Tamaki Osaka had to keep their relationship a secret despite being together for many years. They had to hide their relationship from others, including Tamaki’s own family. When they finally revealed their relationship to Tamaki’s father, he accused her of tarnishing the family’s name. Tamaki and Francois had to face racism for their biracial relationship and overcome a lot of hurdles.
Leonard and Tamaki got secretly married without anybody else’s knowledge. They had to remain away from Tamaki Osaka’s family for 15 years. Finally, in 2008, the couple and their two daughters reunited with Tamaki’s family in Japan.
Leonard Francois: Children
Leonard and Tamaki have two daughters who are 18 months apart. Their eldest daughter is Mari Osaka, a retired Japanese tennis player. She was born on April 3, 1996.
Their youngest daughter is the tennis world champion, Naomi Osaka. Naomi was born on April 16, 1997. She has been ranked as the number one tennis player by the Women’s Tennis Association and is the first Asian woman to hold the position.
Mari Osaka and Naomi Osaka had to adopt their mother’s surname due to the Japanese Family Registration Law called Koseki. Similarly, adopting their mother’s surname enabled the two girls to have an easier childhood in Japan.
Leonard as a tennis coach
Leonard Francois did not have any prior coaching experience before he started professionally coaching his two daughters. In fact, his daughters, too, were not interested in the sport. It was actually Leonard himself who decided that he would teach his daughters to play tennis and help them become professional players.
Leonard was inspired to coach his daughters after witnessing the absolute domination of the Williams sisters in the world of tennis. He followed the training styles and daily regimes of Serena Williams and Venus Williams and adopted them to train his own daughters. Serena and Venus, too, were trained by their own father, Richard Williams, at the beginning of their careers.
Francois’s training plan included instructional books, DVDs, and making his two daughters hit thousands of balls every day. Like Richard Williams, Francois, too, made his daughters play tennis in outdoor clay courts.
Initially, Mari and Naomi Osaka were trained in Japan. However, their family moved to New York in 2001 to have a better training environment. Later, they removed to Florida for better opportunities.
He even homeschooled his two daughters to maintain their academics properly along with their hectic training schedule. It helped take away distractions from their daily training regime. Leonard was prompted to do this after discovering that Richard Williams too homeschooled his two daughters Serena and Venus Williams.
From the very beginning, Leonard was sure that he wanted his daughters to play for Japan. Even though Naomi and Mari were raised in the US and were American citizens, Tamaki and Leonard decided that they would like their daughters to represent Japan instead of the USA. Naomi gave up her American citizenship in 2019 to play for Japan in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Leonard Francois and Tamaki Osaka stated, “We made the decision that Naomi would represent Japan at an early age. She was born in Osaka and was brought up in a household of Japanese and Haitian culture. Quite simply, Naomi and her sister Mari have always felt Japanese, so that was our only rationale. It was never a financially motivated decision, nor were we ever swayed either way by any national federation.”
They further expressed that Naomi was “overlooked by everyone.” She had already committed to the Japan Tennis Association when the U.S. Tennis Association tried to recruit her at 16 years old. Furthermore, she gained more support from the Japanese Tennis Association than the U.S. Tennis Association, which led to their eventual decision.
Leonard Francois and Naomi Osaka
Leonard Francois is the proud father and the former coach of tennis world champion Naomi Osaka. Following her Grand Slam win in 2018, Naomi Osaka became the world’s number one ranked women’s tennis player. She is the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam title and the first Asian woman/player to hold the number one position.
After receiving rigorous training from her father since the age of three, Naomi Osaka later began her training with the tennis coach Sascha Bajin. Sascha Bajin coached Naomi during two Grand Slam titles, but after the Australian Open in 2019, Naomi split from Bajin.
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After parting ways from Sascha Bajin, Naomi began training with Jermaine Jenkins. However, she switched her coach again in 2020 and temporarily training with her father again, after which she professionally started being coached by Wim Fissette.
Although Leonard Francois no longer trains Naomi Osaka, he still supports her like any other proud father. Additionally, he still closely follows Naomi’s matches and her training to ensure that she is doing her level best.
Naomi has always credited her parents and especially her father for her successful career. According to her, she has always gotten along with her parents. They have been extremely influential in helping her achieve a normal childhood while also encouraging her in her journey to become a star tennis player as she pursued her goals from an early age.
Naomi is extremely proud of her Japanese and Haitian heritage, and in a 2018 interview, she said, “Japanese culture? I love everything about it…And Haiti, if you’ve ever met a Haitian person, they are really positive, and literally, if you’re friends with them, then they will do anything for you. That’s something that is a really good trait, and I’m really happy that my grandparents and my dad’s side of the family are like that.”
Leonard Francois: Social Media
Leonard Francois is not active on any social media. This seems to be a natural move for the tennis coach as he himself chooses not to speak about his private life too much and has, in fact, not disclosed anything about his past life, including even his birth date till now. He prefers to remain away from the spotlight and enjoys living a normal life with his family.
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Leonard Francois: Appearance
Leonard is quite tall and seems to be approximately 6 feet tall. He is of average build and has a well-maintained body. Information regarding his exact weight is not available.
He has black-colored hair, dark skin, and dark brown eyes.