• Leonard Francois is of Haitian descent, born in the US and moved to Osaka, Japan to be with his wife.
• He developed a style of tennis coaching similar to that of Richard Williams.
• His eldest daughter, Mari, has been trained by him from an early age and has played in professional tournaments.
• His youngest daughter, Naomi, won the 2018 US Open, beating Serena Williams in the final.
• He and his wife have an estimated net worth of over $29 million thanks to Naomi’s success.
Leonard Francois is the father of Naomi Osaka, the professional tennis player who defeated Serena Williams in the 2018 US Open Final. He has dedicated many years of his life as a tennis coach to his daughters, Mari and Naomi.
Early life and family
Leonard Max Francois was born in the US, although he is of Haitian descent. His parents only spoke Creole, because they didn’t even know English. Leonard spent his childhood in New York, eventually as a student at New York University. It was then that he met the love of his life and the future mother of his daughters, Tamaki Osaka. During one of his vacations from college, Leonard went to one of the Japanese islands, including Hokkaido, where he met Tamaki, and he quickly understood that he wanted to start a relationship with her.
Tamaki’s Japanese family accused her to date a black man and disgrace the whole family, but Leonard was not afraid to prove that he was a good match for his Japanese girlfriend, so after graduating from university, he moved to Osaka, Japan, to live there with Tamaki. and to be close to her family to show them he was good enough.
Leonard decided to take up tennis coaching in 1999, when he saw the Williams sisters perform at the French Open tournament. Both his daughters were toddlers at the time, but Leonard’s decision was firm. He was amazed at their doubles win and vowed to do everything he could to make his daughters the team of Williams’ kind. Leonard was also encouraged by the fact that the Williams sisters’ coach, their father Richard Williams, had never played tennis at all throughout his life, although Leonard played a lot.
Leonard’s younger daughter, Naomi Osaka, later admitted that the style of their upbringing at court was very similar to that of their father’s Serena and Venus Williams. Just like Serena once said that no one beat her like Venus did, Naomi also shared that her older sister Mari was her strongest opponent. Leonard later found another coach for both of his daughters so that they could improve their level of play. Leonardo never forgot where he came from, so he and his wife built an elementary school in Haiti in 2000, which Naomi later attended in 2019. He does a lot of charity work and helps various funds to develop sports classes for children with low-income families.
Eldest daughter, Mari Osaka
Leonard’s eldest daughter, Mari Osaka, was born on April 3, 1996 in Osaka, Japan. From an early age she was trained in tennis by her father.
She also enjoys drawing and often shares her photos and sketches on her Instagram account. She also posts videos of her daily workout routine, showing off various interesting devices and gadgets that help her practice and develop speed, responsiveness, and other skills that are important for a professional tennis player. Mari’s coach is now Maxime Kouyaté; he took her to the final of The McLeod for Health Florence Open in 2018. Mari began competing in professional tennis tournaments in 2014 and competed in Bank of the West Classic, when she partnered Marina Shamayko in doubles, but she lost to Ajla Tomljanović and Varvara Lepchenko. Mari was then featured at the 2019 Miami Open, playing singles by receiving a wild card into the main draw.
Mari likes to travel; her favorite destinations are Tokyo, Japan and Paris, France. She likes dogs.
She suffers a lot because many people compare her to her younger sister who is more successful than Mari; however, she learns to deal with it, not to be depressed and to develop her own career and achievements.
Youngest daughter, Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka was born on October 16, 1997 in Chūō-ku, Osaka, Japan. The questions she is more than tired of answering are ‘Why is her last name the same as the city she was born in?’: ‘We are recycling a joke from 2014! Anyone born in Osaka has the surname Osaka,” she joked in her interview to Washington Post in 2018. When Naomi was three years old, her family moved to Long Island and then to Florida, when she was about nine years old. Naomi started playing tennis with her older sister, Mari. She worked hard and dreamed of playing against the Williams sisters.
At the age of 15, Naomi started working at the ISP Academy coached by Patrick Tauma, then in 2014 at the Harold Solomon Tennis Academy, then moved to the ProWorld Tennis Academy, where she honed her skills and had more opportunities to succeed achieve.
Naomi won her first WTA Tour match when she was just 16 years old, and became a sensation in the sports world after beating Serena Williams at the 2018 US Open, while being ranked seventh in the world at that time. The New Yorker called her “the next best player in the world.” In 2019, Naomi won the Australian Open by defeating Czech professional tennis player Petra Kvitová in three sets. The same tournament in 2020 was not as successful as Naomi expected, as she lost to American professional tennis player Coco Gauff in the third round.
Controversy surrounding Naomi’s win at the US Open
“We will never know if young Osaka actually won the 2018 US Open or if she got it from a man who would make Serena Williams feel his power,” wrote Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins. The situation that happened during the match between Naomi Osaka and her biggest idol and inspiration, Serena Williams, was excellent indeed. Portuguese referee Carlos Ramos, who served as chair umpire during the match, gave Serena three code violations. She accused him of stealing the point from her and insisted she receive no coaching during the match. She also accused him of sexism and racism, but eventually had to pay the fine for her transgressions.
Naomi won the game and the audience was debating whether it was her skill that helped her, or the situation surrounding Serena, which caused the latter to lose both her temper and the game. At the end of the match, Serena congratulated Naomi and looked at Osaka with a friendly smile. However, her true feeling about the game was actually the opposite, but not directed at Naomi.
Personal life, wife Tamaki Osaka
Leonard has never divorced his wife, Tamaki Osaka, who is a teacher, since the day they got married in 1989. Under the laws of Japan, his daughters took their mother’s surname; the law is also known as Koseki, or Japan’s Family Registration Law. It says that the foreign spouse must join his Japanese spouse’s koseki and all their children must be registered under the Japanese spouse’s surname.
Hobbies, favorite things and interesting facts
Leonard is an ardent fan of many kinds of sports, so he spends a lot of time playing tennis and beach volleyball, swimming, etc. He also likes to watch basketball games. Leonard spends a lot of time with his parents, who still live in New York.
Appearance, clothing style
Leonard has black hair and dark brown eyes. His height, weight and vital stats are not available at the moment, but judging by his photos with his daughter Naomi, who is 5’7″ tall, he is slightly shorter than her.
Wealth and salary
As of 2020, Leonard’s net worth is still not officially reported. However, his daughter Naomi Osaka has an estimated net worth of over $29 million.