Haitian hotelier hails tennis champs’ Haitian heritage

Tennis champ, Naomi Osaka.
Margot Jordan

Haiti’s Le Plaza Hotel’s General Manager Marc Pierre-Louis has hailed Naomi Osaka’s stunning victory at the US Open as “an achievement of which all Haitians should be incredibly proud.”

Speaking in the euphoric aftermath of the 20-year-old’s 6-2, 6-4 upset of 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams two weekends ago, the Haitian hotelier congratulated the first-time champion, whose father, Leonard Francois, is Haitian-born.

“Haitians all over the world, including here in Port-au-Prince, were watching the match and cheering throughout,” he said in a statement. “Naomi played brilliantly to beat one of the greatest tennis players of all time, somebody whom she has idolized since childhood. That took nerves of steel.

At the same time, Pierre-Louis underscored the “lifetime grit, tenacity and brilliance” of Serena Williams, one of his favorite players.

“Naomi competed with confidence and all people of Haitian descent should be celebrating her victory,” Pierre-Louis added.

While Osaka competes for Japan — the country of her birth and her mother’s homeland — Pierre-Louis noted that the blossoming women’s singles star is always quick to recognize her Haitian heritage, especially since she grew up with her Haitian grandmother in the United States.

“She is clearly proud of her Haitian heritage, and it’s inspiring to see her acknowledge it and its influence on her,” he said. “The people of Haiti would be honored to welcome Naomi for a visit to celebrate our first Grand Slam champion properly, and for Haitian youth to be inspired by somebody they can identify with.”

Pierre-Louis said notable talents of Haitian heritage, including Bruny Surin and Barbara Pierre (athletics); Orlando Calixte (baseball); Joachim Alcine (boxing); and Vladimir Ducasse (American football), have achieved success in the sports world.

“Because they represented other countries doesn’t stop us from saluting them and sharing in their success,” said Le Plaza’s general manager.

“Naomi Osaka is the latest addition to this illustrious list, and we’ll continue to watch her progress,” he added.

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